When a woman tries for a baby month after month and is unable to get pregnant, she gets caught up in a negative thought cycle, leading to stress and sometimes depression, without ever having consulted a fertility specialist.
Psychological studies show that when a woman, or a couple, are made aware that they have a fertility problem, the impact is similar to when people are told they have cancer or another serious illness. This is natural because fertility affects women into the adult stage of their lives.
Another factor to consider is that a high percentage of women trying to become mothers are working long hours and are under a great deal of stress professionally. Dr. Sarah Berga, expert in assisted reproduction at Emory University, USA, has conducted research that links stress with infertility. “We think we can solve infertility with assisted reproduction treatments”, she says, “and do not make a big enough effort to understand the role of stress: what if we could solve some of these infertility problems by addressing the problems of stress?”
The study by Dr. Berga, conducted with female rhesus monkeys, noted interesting trends when the monkeys were subjected to stress inducers. The conclusions found that 10% of monkeys stopped ovulating and menstruating when they were subjected to social stress; another 10% stopped ovulating and menstruating when their diet and exercise were altered; and more than 70% stopped ovulating and menstruating when all three factors (altered diet, altered physical exercise and social stress) came into play.
Dr. Marta Moschetta, specialist in assisted reproduction at ProcreaTec, gives us her professional opinion on the subject: “It’s important that patients choose an optimum time in their lives to undergo fertility treatment. It’s not worth undergoing treatment if people are experiencing high levels of work-related stress or family problems. Obviously there are many factors in our lives that we cannot change, which means that we have to learn to live with stress and, most importantly, control it. Yoga, acupuncture, talking to a psychologist or a friend who will listen, playing sports and going for a massage are some of the activities that can help us cope better with stress and infertility problems in general. “
In the 21st century, stress plays an ever-increasing role in our lives. We must improve lifestyle qualitatively so that fertility is not affected and overall health is improved.