“Stop trying so hard! It will happen when you least expect it.”
This is a common phrase many of us have heard if we or someone we know has had a hard time getting pregnant. Starting a family can be a very stressful event, especially if you are one of the 7.3 million couples who are struggling to get pregnant. Up until now there has been no scientific proof that links stress and infertility.
Finally there are some facts to support this connection. In late March 2014, a study was published in the Human Reproduction journal stating that women who have high levels of a biomarker for stress in their saliva took 29 percent longer to become pregnant compared to those with lower levels. Those with high levels of the stress indicator were also twice as likely to meet the clinical definition for infertility.
“While this is only a small study, it may be the beginning of understanding this issue and stress as a possible marker,” says Lisa Hasty, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at Piedmont. “When a patient comes to us we don’t have a test that measures their stress levels, but there is no doubt stress has a great impact on overall health.”
Dr. Hasty believes patients with infertility problems may benefit from a holistic approach. She often recommends complimentary care like acupuncture treatments for patients who have a harder time keeping their stress under check. Experts do not know exactly how or why it works, but Dr. Hasty says it has a way of channeling blood flow and helping patients achieve a more relaxed state.
There are also local support groups that provide emotional help for couples going through infertility. Dr. Hasty feels these groups can be a great lifeline for many couples who are struggling to overcome their anxiety.
Dr. Hasty also recommends patients be wary of what they read on the internet.
“Today there is so much information available that it can create great anxiety for couples suffering from infertility. Often times the stories you read online are the severe cases, not the norm. It’s best to consult your physician for the facts.”
For a list of Piedmont’s reproductive endocrinologists, click here.