Stress and Infertility
Infertility is often described as the most stressful event in the life of most infertile couples.
Psychological stress can reduce female reproductive performance in various ways, with implications related to the nervous, endocrine and immune systems. Assisted human reproduction procedures are stressful because of daily hormone injections, blood tests, surgical and laparoscopic interventions, but also because of the possibility of failure to achieve a pregnancy.Psychological stress can reduce success rates, possibly due to hypothalamic dysfunction resulting either from changes in neurotransmitters, catecholamine suppression, either by the interference of hypothalamic receptors with neurotransmitters. The exact mechanism by which stress interferes with hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis is not currently known.
The effect of stress on reproductive performance in the general population
The study “Distress and Reduced fertility: a follow-up study of first-pregnancy planners” monitored 430 couples for 6 menstrual cycles. On day 21 of each cycle, stress was assessed by using a psychometric questionnaire. The study led to the conclusion that highly stressed women experienced lower reproductive performance.
The effect of stress on reproductive performance of couples who use assisted reproductive technologies
Stress effects noticed in the general population are also found among the segment of the population that use human assisted reproduction treatments. In this respect, the study “Investigation of effectiveness of psychological counseling on assisted reproductive techniques” demonstrates that those couples who have benefited from advice and support during the IVF cycle showed low anxiety and depression scores and high rates of achieving pregnancy, in comparison with a control group receiving only standard medical care.
On the other hand, there are numerous other studies that have found no relationship between psychological status of women and the assisted reproduction treatment outcome.
For balancing the research results, we noticed there is a strong tendency to correlate high levels of psychological distress with decreased reproductive performance. However, the precision in the determination of a cause-effect relationship is low because major stress measurements are subjective and there is still no consensus on the definition and measurement of stress. But still, although it requires more accurate biological evidence, it remains plausible that this factor can affect reproductive health, thus being a cautious thing to adopt strategies to reduce and eliminate the stress of what defines the lifestyle of each of us.
• Terzioglu F (2001) Investigation into Effectiveness of counseling on assisted reproductive Techniques in Turkey. J PsychosomObstetGynaecol 22.133 to 141
• Hjollund NH, Jensen TK, Bonde JP, Henriksen TB, Andersson AM, Kolstad HA, Ernst E, Giwercman A, Skakkebaek NE and Olsen J (1999) Distress and Reduced fertility: a follow-up study of first-pregnancy planners. FertilSteril 72.47 to 53.
• Homan GF, Davies M. And Norman R. (2007) The Impact of Lifestyle Factors on reproductive performance in the General Population and Those undergoing infertility treatment: a review. Hum Reprod 13, 209-223 • Edelmann RJ (1990) Emotional Aspects of in vitro fertilization Procedures: review. J Reprod Infertile 8.161 to 173 Psychol. • Klonoff-Cohen H (2005) Female and male lifestyle habits and IVF: what is known and unknown. Hum Reprod Update from 11.179 to 203.