Stress Management

What is stress?
Stress is one of the most common, yet highly misunderstood terms that we use in our everyday life. Stress is our body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or stressors. Stressors are forces from inside or outside world affecting the individual.

Does stress cause infertility?
There is no conclusive evidence that says that stress causes infertility. There is no direct cause and effect relationship between stress and infertility. But if stress is left untreated, it can add to the difficulties of infertile couples.

Does infertility lead to stress?
Yes, a lot of studies suggest that the diagnosis of infertility does lead to stress, anxiety and depression in a lot of couples. Research has shown that infertile couples are more stressed when compared with a matched sample of fertile couples. Some infertile couples describe the experience of infertility to be as stressful as the experience of divorce or the death of a loved one.

Consider the situation. When a couple is unable to conceive, facing family and societal pressures to have a baby, the pressures sometimes could be silent ones, the couple faces self-doubt, and society frequently fails to realize how much grief childlessness can carry. Being infertile is not a dangerous medical condition, but it is a struggle to build a family, to fulfill a dream and to be happy.Such circumstances can be stressful for the couple experiencing infertility.

Can stress affect infertility treatment?
Certainly.There is evidence from some studies that suggest that pre-existing stress can have detrimental effects on pregnancy outcomes from infertility treatment.

Factors that contribute to stress in current times.

External Factors:

  • Your job
  • Relationship with loved ones, social relationships
  • Your home
  • Challenges, difficulties and Expectations of everyday life
  • Your environment, pollution etc.

Internal Factors:

  • Your nutritional status
  • Overall health and fitness, exercise regime
  • Sleep and rest that you get
  • Emotional well being

Do lifestyle factors have an effect on infertility?
Yes. Lifestyle factors do have a negative effect on infertility and its subsequent treatment. These factors could be:

  • Obesity
  • Hectic daily schedule – When you are drained out, there is no time for sex.
  • Irregular and unhealthy eating habits
  • Lack of physical activity- No exercise, sport etc.

What can I do to reduce stress of infertility?

  • Yoga, Meditation, relaxation exercises, playing a sport etc. Identify the technique that helps you fell relaxed, and incorporate it into your schedule.
  • Lifestyle changes such as eating healthy, taking adequate rest, taking breaks from work, going on vacations, etc.
  • Communication with partner- Communication and healthy discussions with spouse provide you with support and strengthen your marital relations.
  • Identify you supports. Find Social support in some family member or friend if possible.
  • Visit an infertilitycounselor or psychologist.
  • Identify support groups. It can help talking to others who are undergoing similar difficulties and have similar experiences.

Infertility and Sexual Dysfunction

Consider the situation. You are couple with both you and your spouse working full time. You wake up in the morning, finish daily chores and rush to work. Both husband and wife have to face traffic woes, slog at the workplace, come back home facing even worse traffic, cook dinner once back home, eat, watch some television, and then go off to sleep after being dead tired. Is there time or energy left for sex??

Scheduled sex- Lack of desire:

Infertility can increase sexual discontent among couples. Not being able to conceive increases the demand to have sex on particular days, when the ovulation period occurs. Not being in the mood, being drained out after a hectic day, or being out on business trips on these days could increase the disturbance between couples. Scheduled sex can rob the spontaneity and excitement out of it, and might make it more like a chore that needs to be done

Performance Anxiety

To a man, the label of infertility might signify a loss of masculinity. The man might feel as if sex has been reduced to a ‘performing act’, and he might feel tremendous pressure to ‘perform’ on the days on ovulation. On top of that, if there is lack of time since the couple is tired, this pressure can lead to performance anxiety, and thus sexual dysfunction. The man can then try harder to ‘perform’ the next time, and this is then met with further failure, as he is creating more and more pressure for himself. This leads to further sexual difficulties.

Depression

Infertility can lead to depression. Depression further can lead to lack of arousal and lack of desire, which in turn increases problems of sexual dysfunction.

Good communication between the couple and discussing sexual difficulties with a sex therapist or counselor can help in developing healthy sexual relationship between the couple.