• MedPsych Integrated

Stress and Reproductive Function

Stress is an inseparable part of our lives dealt with in different ways. In times of stress, our bodies release the metabolic hormone Ghrelin. Ghrelin works to trigger feelings of hunger, increase food intake, and promote fat storage. This hormone is part of the reason we tend to eat when we feel emotional.

Early clinical studies (performed on mice) show that Gherlin can be harmful to some aspects of reproductive function by affecting the primordial folic reserve in the ovaries. Females are born with a fixed number of these follicles which later mature and release an egg cell for fertilization. Research shows that when exposed to chronic stress, there are significantly fewer primordial follicles but when the effect of Ghrelin was blocked, there were a normal amount of follicles despite the stress. At the same time, stressed women probably also have sex less often.

In women who are young and otherwise healthy, effects of stress on their reproductive function can be reversible but in women who are already suffering with fertility problems, even a minor impact associated with stress can influence the chance of conception.

Everyone gets stressed once in a while. But if your stress goes on for a long time or if you’re dealing with a major upheaval like unemployment or a death in the family, then your ovulation might get thrown out of whack. You are not alone, many women struggle with getting pregnant.

When you are trying to get pregnant and someone tells you "just relax, it will happen" you get annoyed. However, in some cases this might just be what you need. If you are dealing with something overwhelming that could affect your stress levels, talk to a healthcare professional. They might recommend therapy and possibly come up with coping mechanisms.

Other things to try:

  • Exercise: walking, jogging, yoga

  • Healthy diet

  • Meditation

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