Stressed? Keep Calm Inside the Storm of Male Infertility
You can easily see how fertility problems increase your stress levels, but can stress be causing your fertility problems? Guys, take a look at your physical, mental, and emotional health. Keeping your stress levels in check certainly won't hurt, and it might just benefit your overall health.
Stress and your sperm
Some experts report that stress can affect your hormones. You need healthy hormone levels to produce healthy sperm. So can stress affect your sperm health? It is possible, although the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) says that it is unlikely. Relax. If you look at the majority of the literature on male infertility, stress is rarely considered one of the main causes of male fertility problems.
Can stress delay pregnancy?
Still, some fertility experts recommend that infertile men keep their stress levels low. Why? A 2005 study found that stressed-out women and men, especially those with high levels of marital stress, took longer to get pregnant than others. If you find your partnership strained due to fertility problems, don't forget to focus on each other in the process, finding healthy outlets for your tension and anxieties.
Take it easy when the going gets tough
Another study examined pregnancy rates in men going through major life transitions. If you are trying to get pregnant while taking on a new job, moving to a new house, or mourning the loss of a loved one, take it easy. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health looked at the relationship between men's stress and their semen quality. The men in the study that had experienced more than two stressful life events recently had semen of poorer quality than men with fewer stressful life events. Read on for tips on how to keep your stress in check.
Don't let stress get out of control
We all need to practice healthy lifestyle habits, especially when experiencing fertility problems. Dr. Marie Davidson, a psychologist at the Fertility Centers of Illinois, shares, "Almost everyone who is experiencing infertility and going through treatment acquires a load of stress related to the demands of treatment and the uncertainty about outcome. They worry: Will I have a child or not?" While women may appear more emotionally distraught when trying to get pregnant, men are not immune to feelings of worry and distress. Guys with fertility problems are simply more likely to hide their feelings of guilt, shame, and failure. If your emotions have gotten the better of you during your journey to conceive, consider implementing some of the following healthy life changes:
- Think positively and understand that challenges in life are normal and expected.
- Let go of the need for control. You can't control everything.
- Slow down. In our high-tech, multi-tasking world, make it a priority to move slowly and focus on one thing at a time. This is especially important when you feel your stress levels rising.
- Exercise several times a week, at a minimum, and eat regular, healthy meals. Include a variety of nutritious foods in your diet, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins
- Stay active, maintain healthy friendships, and don’t forget to make time for fun activities.
- Consider yoga, acupuncture, massage, and other mind-body therapies to help you relax.
Don't keep your problems bottled up inside. It can be really helpful to talk about your feelings with a friend, partner, or mental health professional. It may be impossible to eliminate stress entirely from your life, but you can learn to manage your stressors as they arise.
Reviewed March 2011 by Psychologist Dr. Marie Davidson at the Fertility Centers of Illinois.Sources
- American Fertility Association: Male Infertility and Stress
- American Fertility Association: Psychological Issues in Male Factor Infertility
- American Fertility Association: Top Ten Fertility Myths
- American Pregnancy Association: Male Infertility
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine: Stress and Infertility
- Fertility and Sterility: Infertility-related stress in men and women predicts treatment outcome 1 year later
- Fertility and Sterility: Semen quality in fertile men in relation to psychosocial stress