Fertility And Stress

Approximately around 1 in 6 couples in the UK have difficulties in conceiving a pregnancy despite having regular unprotected sex which is equal to around 3.5 million people in the country, and of those people 84% will conceive after trying for 12 months. If pregnancy has not been achieved within this time then it is important to consult your GP and if you are over 35 or are aware that you have a fertility problem, it is important to ask for help earlier.

According to the World Health Organisation infertility is:

A disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse”

There are many potential causes of infertility, with fertility problems affecting both the male and female partner. It can be sometimes difficult to find the cause of fertility problems which is known as unexplained infertility.

What Is Unexplained Infertility?

Infertility is “unexplained” if a woman is ovulating regularly, has clear fallopian tubes, if the male partners sperm is normal and if sexual intercourse takes place on a regular basis particularly around the time of ovulation. The couple need to have been trying to conceive for at least the previous two years.

The possible causes of unexplained infertility may include anatomical abnormalities, abnormal development of the follicle and of ovulation, abnormal eggs, trapped eggs and Luteal phase abnormalities.

Stress And Infertility

Trying to conceive can be an extremely emotional process so it is important that couples are able to support each other as much as possible as stress in itself is something which may also contribute to infertility. Stress can manifest itself on an emotional, psychological, physical and a behavioural level and the symptoms to look out for may include:


  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Low self esteem
  • Tearfulness


  • Racing thoughts
  • Poor concentration
  • Low mood
  • Constant worrying


  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Comfort eating or decreased appetite


  • An increase in alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Drug use
  • Avoiding things
  • Arguing with partner

Our bodies are equipped to prevent conception happening during times of extreme stress. The presence of Adrenaline, which is the hormone released by our bodies during stressful times signals our body that the conditions are not right for conception to take place. Adrenaline prevents the body from effectively using the hormone Progesterone which is essential for fertility. It also causes the pituitary gland to release higher levels of Prolactin which also causes infertility to occur.

Research tells us that stress boosts levels of stress hormones such as Adrenaline, Catecholamines and Cortisol which inhibit the release of the body’s main hormone GnRH (Gonadotropin releasing hormone) and is responsible for the release of the sex hormones. This may stop ovulation in women, decrease sperm count in men and reduce libido.

Reducing Stress For Fertility:

If you are having difficulty conceiving, stress may be a factor which needs to be addressed. If you have had recommended fertility tests and there appears to be no medical reason for your infertility then it may be time to make some adjustments to your life style.

  1. The first step is to acknowledge your feeling and to understand that what you are feeling is completely normal.
  2. Start to share your questions and feelings, there may be a counsellor in your fertility clinic with whom you may wish to speak to, Fertility Network UK  may also be able to put you in touch with a local support group.
  3. Keep a journal, as you record your thoughts and feelings you may start to increase your self awareness which can be very helpful.
  4. Communicate with friends and family
  5. Communicate with your partner as infertility can place a huge strain on relationships and sometimes seeking the help of a Relate counsellor can help you to move forwards as a couple.
  6. Find positive ways to reduce stress such as exercising, yoga, a new hobby, mindfulness, reflexology, massage and meditation.
  7. Learn to breathe. Another way to calm down is by practicing deep breathing techniques either alone or with your partner. Try sitting comfortably, with your eyes closed, and start to take some long, slow, deep breaths. Breathe in and out through your nose filling your lungs with air. Try doing this exercise for five minutes whenever you feel anxious.
  8. Healthy diet – if you are going through a period of stress and tension try to cut down on your intake of sugar, salt, saturated fats and white flour. Try also to eliminate chemical additives such as alcohol, caffeine, coca cola, coffee, black tea.

Reflexology is a wonderful tool for re balancing hormone levels whilst also reducing stress levels and calming the mind. I f you would like to find out more about how Reflexology may help you or if you wish to book an appointment, please contact me on 07969 044 884 or email me through my website