Infertility: Beating the Stress of Infertility
Doctors are still not clear about the relationship that exists between stress and infertility—the physiological processes involved and the order of events—but most agree that there is a link. With many couples it's hard to tell what came first, the proverbial chicken, or the egg. In other words, is stress causing the infertility, or is naturally-occurring infertility causing stress? Or maybe it's a combination of the two: the intense desire to conceive causes stress in couples for whom success isn't immediate, and that stress further impedes the body's ability to achieve pregnancy.
Whatever the answer, there is substantial evidence that couples conceive more easily in months where they report being happy and relaxed. Add to that the numerous other health and relationship benefits of keeping stress at bay, and there's no doubt that reducing stress on the road to parenthood is important. Here are some methods to consider:
- Exercise. The numerous health benefits of exercise are important in any phase of life, and can be particularly helpful to women trying to conceive. Some experts highly recommend types of exercise that allow you to slow down and really focus on the body and how you feel, such as Pilates or yoga. These types of training strengthen the body in ways that will be very beneficial should pregnancy occur, and allow women to release much of the tension that accumulates in the musculoskeletal system.
- Massage. Studies have shown that massage lowers the levels of stress hormones (like cortisol) in the body and boosts emotional health. While this can be an expensive therapy, you can get some of the same benefit—and bond with your husband—by giving one another a massage at the end of a long day.
- Sex. Are we serious? You're already having scheduled sex with your husband using charts, graphs and thermometers, and we want to recommend more? Sort of. The relaxing type of sex is the fun kind that isn't at all goal-oriented. Give yourself a break occasionally and just be in the moment with your husband, with no agenda and no need to accomplish anything other than loving one another and having fun.
- Prayer and Meditation. Medical experts are often stumped when trying to explain the positive impact of prayer and faith on a wide variety of physical conditions. Substantial evidence exists, however, that those who regularly pray experience less emotional stress and often recover from illness faster. Prayer during a season of infertility can help you unload the thoughts and fears that burden you, and free you up to enjoy where you are today. Talk to God—you'll be amazed how calming it can be, no matter what challenges lie before you.
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