Approximately one in seven couples in the United States struggle with infertility, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Biomedically speaking, the major causes of female infertility include endometriosis, PCOS and other ovulation disorders, poor egg quality, hormonal imbalance, and blocked or damaged fallopian tubes.
These might look like a wide variety of issues at first glance, but when looked at from a Chinese medicine perspective these all conditions all boil down to either deficiency, stagnation, or both, with stress as the root cause of most cases.
Before I go any further, I do want to acknowledge that when it comes to physical impediments like blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, surgical intervention is often the best option for success.
But when it comes to ovulation disorders, poor egg quality, hormonal imbalance, and even mild cases of endometriosis, stress management can do wonders in increasing fertility in many women.
Here’s how stress can contribute to infertility.
Simply put, it all comes down to hormones.
Hormones are chemical messengers that enter the blood, where they are carried from the gland that produced them to target cells upon which they act.
Hormones can also trigger other hormones to be produced, released, or inhibited, creating chain reactions in your body that influence everything from your energy levels, when you’re hungry, to whether or not you ovulate, and everything in between.
Cortisol is your main stress hormone.
Cortisol has a variety of functions in the body.
Two of it’s main functions are to increase blood sugar and prioritizing blood flow to muscles so you have the energy you need to fight or flee your way out of a dangerous situation.
While this response is awesome in the short-term if, let’s say, you’re being attacked by a lion, it’s not so great if you experience stress throughout the day, every day, as may of us do.
In addition to giving you the strength to deal with any feline attacks you might encounter, cortisol also diverts blood away from your reproductive organs.
This means that if you’re chronically stressed there’s a good chance that your endometrium (the inner lining of your uterus) may not be able to develop into the optimal nutrient-rich environment that is needed to nurture a growing baby.
To make matters worse, the negative effects of cortisol are amplified when you are chronically stressed, leading to abnormal sex-hormone secretion which then impacts your ability to develop and release healthy eggs.
So what are you supposed to do about it?
Given the prevalence of chronic stress in our society, my first line of defense with patients struggling with infertility is to help them manage the impact stress has on their body.
Regular weekly acupuncture treatments, herbal formulas, and stress-management techniques like mindfulness, yoga, self-pampering, and journaling are all important strategies to consider when dealing with chronic stress and infertility.
After a few weeks of intense focus on reducing the impact of stress, I then recommend dietary modifications to support healthy hormone cycles, as well as encouraging simple strategies to increase movement throughout the day.
This multi-faceted approach to health can do wonders for a woman’s fertility, overall health, and happiness in general!
Now I’d love to hear from you.
Have you struggled with fertility? What strategies have you used to deal with it?
Leave a comment in the comments section and share your experience!
Until next time,
Love, hugs, and bubble baths,