Trying To Conceive Myth #12 – Stress Does Not Play a Role in Infertility *

Out of the 13 myths proposed by Dr Geisler, this is the one which I discuss with patients most frequently and it is clearly the most controversial.

A consensus on the influence of stress on fertility is yet to be established. Generally speaking, there are two schools of thought. Some fertility specialists say the connection has no scientific proof. They reason there is no physiological mechanism through which the link can be explained. Conversely, other specialists acknowledge there may well be no proof, but are of the opinion (through their clinical experience) that stress may have a negative influence. In turn, these specialists offer the advice to keep stress to a minimum as a precautionary measure.

Unfortunately, the relationship between stress and health is not easy to measure or explain. Psychogenic symptoms (those caused by stress) can manifest in many different ways. Moreover, the timing of the appearance of the symptoms is impossible to determine. Despite this, physiology in accordance with the Chinese Medicine model can offer an account for how stress may affect fertility.

Chinese Medicine considers the moment of qi and it is said that stress can cause qi to stagnate. This can affect fertility in two ways. Firstly, it may cause disruption to the menstrual cycle possibly leading to irregular periods and/or unreliable ovulation. Secondly, if energy does not flow freely, it can lead to an inefficient use of energy. This is effectively like having deficiency of energy. To amend the deficit, extra energy is taken from what could be likened to a reserve storage (this is called jing). Excessive depletion of this reserve is said to cause premature aging and may in turn affect fertility. This could manifest in the form of low ovarian reserve and poor egg quality.

*This is the twelfth of a list of 13 myths concerning conception which was compiled by Dr Minna Geisler from The Waterstone Clinic in Ireland.

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