Cortisol is a hormone that your adrenal glands produce and release.
These hormones tell your body what to do and when to do it.
When we experience stress, our bodies go through several changes in order to prepare us to fight or flee. One of the most important of these changes is the release of cortisol, a hormone that helps to increase blood sugar levels and energy production.
While this stress response can be lifesaving in situations of danger, it can also be harmful when it is constantly activated by everyday stressors.
Cortisol has many good functions, such as regulating blood pressure and immune system responses to name just a few. But, when levels of this hormone are too high for long periods of time, it can have a variety of negative consequences.
These effects include:
- increased blood pressure
- decreased immunity
- problems with memory and concentration
- weight gain
The link between stress and infertility
Many individuals who struggle with infertility can have a propensity to feel overwhelmed and stressed.
The trying, the waiting, the disappointments, the testing, all the appointments and the deep emotional questioning and challenges that occur all at the same time. Then, this added fertility challenge goes on to create even more stress until it REALLY starts to affect fertility outcomes creating a stress loop that then impairs the chances of pregnancy – because too much cortisol is now being released in the body to manage all the stress.
While the occasional bout of stress may not impact fertility, chronic stress can lead to hormone imbalances that make it difficult to conceive.
High cortisol levels (stress) can interfere with ovulation and make it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in the lining of the uterus.
Managing cortisol levels is something YOU can do for your fertility.
Here are some ways you can manage your stress levels:
- Get quality sleep
- Exercise regularly – do not over exercise – try to get at least 30 minutes every day
- Learn to limit stress and stressful thinking patterns
- Try meditation and practice deep breathing to help clear your mind
- Enjoy yourself – laugh – let yourself off the hook
- Practice yoga or Tai Chi
- Spend some time in nature – go for a walk
- Maintain healthy relationships
If you work on just one on the list it is a great start.
By taking steps to reduce stress, you can improve your chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy.
We are happy to help. Want to learn more about how acupuncture can help with stress and fertility? Schedule a consultation here.