People's mental health continues to be a constant battleground in the second wave of the pandemic. This pandemic has not only harmed our physical health, but has also created social and economic difficulties, putting people's mental health at risk. Because we've been living in a pandemic for more than a year, it's become clear that the body-mind connection is important for health.
Anxiety and the Pandemic
Infertility is a source of stress. Anxiety lowers the chances of conception even more. It's a never-ending cycle. Many people will tell you to "relax," but it is much easier said than done. Infertile couples, according to studies, experience significant anxiety, and emotional distress. When fertility treatments fail, couples might feel low and emotional.
The following are some of the more common signs of anxiety:
- Psychological – excessive worry, catastrophizing, difficulty concentrating, obsessive thoughts, irritability
- Physical – increased heart rate, panic, agitation, feeling restless, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, muscle tension, fatigue
- Behavioral – avoiding situations that make you feel anxious
Psychosocial aspect of infertility
The association between stress, anxiety, and infertility, as well as its therapies, is complicated, and research has yielded no clear picture of cause and effect. Dealing with infertility involves multiple psychological, emotional, and physiological stressors. Given this, it is not surprising that studies consistently find men and women with infertility report elevated levels of anxiety. According to studies, women who are infertile have the same levels of anxiety and depression as women who have cancer, heart disease, or HIV. Because many societies do not recognize infertility as a disease, couples are often blamed for their situation. Can you imagine blaming patients with cancer for their illness?
Chronic stress may affect ovulation
You may have noticed that your periods may delay or become irregular during periods of high stress. This is because stress affects the hypothalamus, which causes the pituitary glands to under-stimulate. The release of ovarian hormones that cause ovulation is controlled by the pituitary glands. It causes irregular ovulation, lowering your chances of getting pregnant. While stress is not a cause of infertility, studies have shown that long-term stress can have a significant impact on the ability to conceive during infertility treatment. The good news is that by reducing stress, couples can increase their fertility potential while also improving their overall health and happiness. According to a recent scientific study, women with the highest levels of the stress-related enzyme alpha-amylase had a more than doubled chance of infertility.
Stress affects the reproductive potential
Stress can increase the time it takes to get pregnant, negatively impact semen quality, and reduce the success of fertility treatments, and cause depression and anxiety.
Reducing stress is good for the body and mind
Using mindfulness-based activities to reduce stress has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, lower depression, enhance a positive mindset, calm the mind, and improve sleep and overall wellbeing. A study found that women who underwent a 10-week stress management program while undergoing IVF treatment had a 52 percent pregnancy rate compared to a 20 percent pregnancy rate in the control group.
Psychological treatment can lower stress
Receiving support from a psychologist, whether in a group or one-on-one setting, has been shown to be beneficial and effective in stress management. Treatment can improve mood, decrease anxiety, and positively impact pregnancy rates. Mindfulness training programs also provide useful methods for relaxation and enhanced peace of mind, which can assist to reduce the stress of fertility therapy while also proving to be a useful life skill.
Don’t let infertility take over your life
There have been few large, conclusive studies on the subject. The conclusions of most studies are difficult to parse because they are small and rely on notoriously unreliable self-reported data. However, based on what researchers do know, there are a few indications that stress may have some effect on fertility.
What can you do to look after your mental health?
While trying to conceive, there are some things you can do to help maintain your emotional health. These include:
- being active/exercising
- eating well
- being honest about your feelings
- talking to someone you feel you can trust – your partner, a family member, or a friend
- getting help if you have any concerns about your feelings
- finding ways to relax
People experiencing infertility while also dealing with mental health issues can seek help in a variety of ways. For help on your journey to motherhood, contact the top fertility specialists in Chennai at PFRC. Expert counselors at our fertility center are trained to deal with the emotions that come with fertility treatment. Sometimes it helps a lot to share what you are both feeling with someone impartial and can help you cope better.