Why Stress Affects Fertility
I recently attended a seminar on hormone health as it pertains to the female sex organs. The menstrual cycle was reviewed and several abnormal conditions were discussed including PMS, heavy bleeding, fibroids, endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), infertility, and Lichen Sclerosis. Nutrition-based treatment strategies were covered.
I do not intend to repeat all these topics in this post, but will address why stress affects sex hormones. Much like the herbalist I met who said, “If all sorts of wild animals can get pregnant, it must be easy [if you can manage your stress like a sloth].”
From a hormone point of view, explaining is easy… easy as watching a sloth.
It is important to understand that the fundamental building block for hormones is cholesterol. Certain types of glands function to create specific hormones from cholesterol and as they are released, they can either be received as a command by another gland or cell, or be chemically altered for another specific purpose.
As a hormone gets converted from one substance to another through multiple stages, this is known as a pathway. For example, one pathway may be for cholesterol to ultimately become the stress hormone called “cortisol” while another pathway would be used to support the normal balance of hormones like estrogen and progesterone for reproductive organs.
Think of a pathway as the water supply to your house that comes from the local water company. In between your house and the water company is a fire hydrant. If there is a fire or if the fire hydrant is left open, you will lose normal water pressure. Even though water is serving two important purposes, somebody’s house (or your house) burning down has priority in getting access to the water.
Well, that’s essentially the reason why stress (which calls for the formation of cortisol), if unmanaged, can cause dysfunction in the reproductive function because the pathway in your body is set up exactly like the local water supply analogy.
Moreover, proper body healing occurs best when we can relax when were supposed to relax. Just like you can’t fix the brakes on your car if you are constantly driving it, your body needs rest to have the time to heal injuries caused by uncontrolled stress and other causes.
You’ve got to pull the car into the shop, change the oil, and put air in the tires periodically to get the best performance and safety.
While stress is not the only factor in sexual dysfunction, it is one that can easily have an effect on anyone and if managed will substantially increase the chances of conception by helping to support healthy hormone pathways.
Next hormone topic:
What is hormone receptor “down-regulation” and what are some common causes? This is analogous to the old Aesop Fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”