Unbearable: Stress Is A Red Herring In The Fertility Wars

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Having a child is usually a happy time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, as we wait longer to have children, infertility and trouble conceiving can become a part of the family making process. Unbearable addresses these difficulties.

When receiving unsolicited fertility advice, there’s one phrase that I can always count on hearing. It doesn’t matter if its my grandmother, my friends, my co-workers or any nurse I’ve ever met. They are all utterly convinced that if I just wasn’t so stressed, all of my problems would be over. It’s always the stress.

How are they so positive that stress in ruining my uterus? Each and every one of them knows a woman who was trying and trying and stressing and stressing about getting pregnant. And she kept not getting pregnant. Then, she adopted or went through IVF or decided to stop trying and… BOOM! Pregnant! So obviously, it was all the stress. If she just would’ve relaxed, she would’ve been pregnant years earlier.

I know that none of these well-wishers mean to make my blood boil. They are honestly trying to help. So I’m going to try not to get snarky or sarcastic. I’m not going to say, “So there”! But I am going to try to explain exactly why this whole “stress factor” isn’t nearly as important as conventional wisdom would have us all believe.

Obviously, stress affects our body. I’m not arguing that. Extreme stress can have an impact on a woman’s ovulation. But rarely will it actually hinder your fertility. A woman can still ovulate even if she’s stressed. Mostly, it would delay your ovulation, but if you learn to read the signs of ovulation that your body gives, you can still know when your peak fertility time is. Basically, stress hinders your ability to predict ovulation based on normal timing methods.

There’s one other stress-related trap that experts saycan burden couples. Stress can dampen your libido. Couples going through a stressful experience often have a difficult time with intimacy. But since having a child is all about sex, its normally safe to say that couple ares going through their stress together, instead of being in opposition with each other. Yes, every negative pregnancy test might be stressful, but its stress that my husband and I deal with as a couple.

The bottom line is that stress is a very small factor in an extremely complicated system. Reproductive problems very rarely have easy solutions, or else we would’ve already taken care of it. If a couple has tried to get pregnant for more than a year, the technical time-frame necessary to be considered infertile, they’re probably not dealing with simple issues. I’m pretty sure they’ve tried yoga and meditation by now. In fact, they probably tried it before they paid thousands of dollars to doctors to figure out what the problem was.

Stress is not the end-all-be-all in fertility. And even if we know that you’re only trying to help, its insulting to have someone look at your serious, heart-wrenching and emotional battle and say, “Well if you would just relax…” Relaxation simply has very little to do with fertility, so please stop suggesting it as if you are offering the solution to all my problems. You can’t even being to understand my problems. So there. (Sorry… I really can’t help myself sometimes.)

(Photo: Family Wellness)