I’ve been meaning to write about this ever since the publication of research which suggested that women who were stressed were twice as likely to have fertility problems. I’ve always felt that it was infertility that caused stress rather than the other way round, but this study suggests there are some links between stress and fertility problems. Of course, there is nothing more likely to make you feel stressed than the suggestion that your stress levels may be having an impact on your chances of getting pregnant.
The authors themselves are keen to point out that “high levels of stress are clearly neither the only nor the most important factor predicting one’s ability to get pregnant”. However, doing what you can to reduce your stress levels when you’re trying to conceive can only be a good thing.
I was prompted to write about this today as I was sent a link to an article headlined “Yoga may be the answer to infertility”. It referenced the survey, and then quoted an expert who said that yoga would help to “battle” infertility. In the next paragraph the “expert” was introduced as, perhaps unsurprisingly, a yoga therapist but, in an attempt to boost her scientific credibility, it managed to mention the fact that she was also a former science teacher!
I am sure that yoga can be incredibly helpful for all kinds of things, and would certainly recommend it to anyone feeling stressed out by their fertility problems – but the idea that yoga is the “answer” to infertility is not terribly helpful. The solution to stress that comes with infertility is not a convenient one-size-fits-all therapy, but will differ according to every individual.
I think the one thing that really matters here is to appreciate that infertility causes stress, and that anyone going through fertility problems and treatment is going to find it extremely difficult to be calm and relaxed throughout. It’s only natural to feel stressed – and although it’s a good idea to make time for whatever helps you to combat stress, it’s equally important to understand that what helps one person may not help another so don’t ever feel that not shelling out for a particular relaxation therapy is going to reduce your chances of getting pregnant – it won’t. What matters is doing what you like and what makes you feel better.