Managing the Stress of Infertility
November 8, 2021If you’ve been trying to conceive without success for more than a year, you should know that you are not alone. About 11% of women and 9% of men experience infertility. Infertility is defined as when a couple has frequently tried but failed to become pregnant within one year without using birth control. Some stats2:
- In one-third of infertile couples, the problem is with the man.
- In one-third of infertile couples, the problem can’t be identified or is with both the man and woman.
- In one-third of infertile couples, the problem is with the woman.
Here’s a look at some of the potential causes of infertility for both men and women and how you can manage the associated stress.
Causes of Infertility
Infertility is associated with many different factors, but it can be difficult to determine the underlying cause. Causes also vary by gender.
Female infertility may be caused by ovulation disorders, uterine or cervical abnormalities, fallopian tube damage or blockage, endometriosis, primary ovarian insufficiency, pelvic adhesions, certain cancers, and radiation or chemotherapy treatments.
Male infertility can happen from abnormal sperm production or function, problems with the delivery of sperm, overexposure to certain environmental factors like pesticides, cigarette smoking, or radiation, cancers, and radiation or chemotherapy treatments.3
Risk Factors for Infertility
Factors that contribute to infertility vary by gender, although some do overlap, including:
Age. Fertility declines with age in both men and women. Women in their 30s are half as fertile as women in their 20s.
Smoking. Tobacco and e-cigarette use by either partner may reduce the likelihood of pregnancy.
Substance abuse. Alcohol, stimulants, marijuana, opioids, prescription medication, and other drugs can contribute to decreased sperm count and lack of motility in men.
Overweight. An inactive lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits can contribute to weight gain and lead to infertility.
Underweight. Restricting calories or exhibiting eating disorders can negatively impact fertility in both men and women.
Over exercising. An active lifestyle is important to help increase fertility chances, but strenuous and frequent exercise can also lead to ovulation problems in women.
For women, other factors associated with infertility include abnormal menstruation, blocked fallopian tubes, celiac disease, kidney disease, past tubal pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, pituitary gland disorders, PCOS, sickle cell anemia, endometriosis, uterine fibroids and uterine polyps, and thyroid disease.
Male-specific infertility causes include enlarged veins in the scrotum, cystic fibrosis, high-heat exposure to testicles, injury to the scrotum or testicles, low testosterone, misuse of anabolic steroids, premature ejaculation, and undescended testicles.
Managing the Stresses of Infertility
While it’s unclear exactly how stress affects fertility, it certainly can lead to a range of emotions for couples who are trying to conceive. Add in the stress and expense of additional treatments and procedures, and it’s enough to make even the most steadfast feel the pressure. While there is no guarantee that less stress will result in pregnancy, being able to manage it will contribute greatly to your overall health and well-being. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, here are some things fertility patients can try to reduce the stress associated with trying to conceive.4
- Aerobic exercise (may be reduced during treatment)
- Collaboration with experts in stress reduction
- Guided imagery
- Listening to music
- Massage therapy
- Mind-body groups
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy
- Self-help books
- Support and educational groups
- Walking and hiking
Prenate® Vitamin Family
This post is brought to you by the Prenate® Vitamin Family, a line of prescription prenatal supplements designed to enhance preconception, prenatal, and postpartum nutrition in women. Talk with your doctor about how taking a daily prescription prenatal or postnatal vitamin could help support a healthy pregnancy and postpartum wellness.