The human body is both an extremely powerful machine, and one that is very sensitive to what happens to it. On the one hand, there are incredible processes within the human body that are designed to remove germs, heal injuries, and help you live longer. On the other hand, something as simple as anxiety or stress can wreak havoc on some parts of your body.
Anxiety has been linked to infertility, and while anxiety can't make someone permanently infertile, it appears that it can decrease the likelihood of pregnancy. So why does infertility occur and, perhaps more importantly, what can be done about it?
Infertility = Anxiety?
Contact your doctor to discuss your fertility. Sometimes conception simply takes a while naturally, and it has nothing to do with anything being wrong with your body. But there is some evidence that anxiety reduction can improve fertility.
Take my anxiety test now to find out more.
Introduction to Anxiety Infertility
At the heart of infertility is stress, and unfortunately, stress and anxiety are a normal part of daily life. There is a great deal of evidence that daily stress seems to drastically increase the chances of becoming infertile - at least temporarily.
Make sure you take my anxiety test first, to get an idea of how severe your anxiety is and what you can do about it. Infertility is a complicated anxiety symptom, and what makes it more complicated is the fact that it can create more stress and anxiety.
Pressure to Conceive and Fertility
Studies have shown that the effects are far stronger than people even realize. In fact, they found that 30% of those that have been unable to conceive for six months or more have stress to blame.
That stress may be work-related and relationship related, but in many cases, it's related to the stress that men and women place on themselves to conceive, and the longer they try, the more that stress can increase, thereby increasing the likelihood of further infertility.
Causes of Anxiety Infertility
So what's causing this infertility from anxiety? Doctors currently have no idea. Possible reasons include:
- Evolutionary Benefit It's possible that someone in a considerable amount of stress would struggle if they were also in the process of having a child. It's possible that as human beings evolved, those that weren't conceiving under extreme pressure were able to live longer and conceive later than those that could. Or perhaps it was valuable as a disincentive to cause partners stress since child rearing is easier when partners are in less trouble. After billions of years, anything is possible.
- Toxic to Conception On a related note, perhaps extreme anxiety reduces developmental health. If stress and anxiety have any effect on pregnancy health, then maybe the human body tries to avoid it until it's "ready."
- Resource Use As amazing as the human body is, it has a limited amount of resources it can handle at any given time. We know that the brain takes resources away from certain parts of the body during anxiety (this is what causes indigestion - the body takes resources from digestion to help with anxiety). It's possible that resources needed for conception are taken away as well.
But all of these are simply guesses. The truth is that the reason anxiety causes infertility is simply unclear. Stress and anxiety wreak havoc on the body, and most likely it is a combination of many different issues that make it harder to conceive.
How to Relax to Get Pregnant
Seeing a doctor is always the first step. There are so many different fertility tools these days that work extremely well, and seeing what the doctor says and what's available is essential.
But let's assume that anxiety is causing your infertility. How can you reduce anxiety so that you're more likely to conceive? The answer is fairly complicated and related to what's going on in your life, but strongly consider the following:
- Have Fun and Make Love Your lovemaking plays a role in your anxiety. It's great to keep to a calendar, but intimacy is also important for simply enjoying yourself, and making sure that you're engaged with your partner and enjoying yourselves. Lovemaking shouldn't be something you do as a chore because once you take that anxiety reduction tool away, you're left with one less way to stay relaxed and enjoy the moment.
- Planning Fun/Distracting Activities When anxious, the human mind becomes your enemy. While stress can make you feel like you want to be alone, the reality is that anxiety causes thought processes to err towards the more negative thought. So making sure that you're keeping to a busy schedule and out having fun with friends and family is very important for anxiety reduction, relaxation, and ultimately conception.
- Avoiding the Date Often this is easier said than done, but you should also make sure that you're not creating an arbitrary timetable to get pregnant. Pregnancy isn't something you can rush, nor is it something you need to rush. Try to simply enjoy yourselves and see what happens while following your doctor's advice.
Obviously these only scratch the surface. The key is to make sure that you're taking all the steps you need to control your anxiety, based on your symptoms and how they bother you. This is especially true if your anxiety is not fertility based, and if you've been struggling with anxiety for years.
I've helped thousands of people struggling with anxiety daily overcome their symptoms starting with my free 7-minute anxiety test. Learn more about your anxiety today.
Alice D. Domar, Kristin L. Rooney, Benjamin Wiegand, E. John Orav, Michael M. Alper, Brian M. Berger, JanetaNikolovski, Impact of a group mind/body intervention on pregnancy rates in IVF patients, Fertility and Sterility, Volume 95, Issue 7, June 2011, Pages 2269-2273, ISSN 0015-0282, 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2011.03.046.
McGrady, A. V. Effects of psychological stress on male reproduction: a review. Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine 13.1 (1984): 1-7.
Sheiner, Einat K., et al. Potential association between male infertility and occupational psychological stress. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 44.12 (2002): 1093-1099.
Anderheim, L., et al. Does psychological stress affect the outcome of in vitro fertilization? Human Reproduction 20.10 (2005): 2969-2975.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Nov 29, 2017.