Mind, Body & Soul

The Impact of Stress On Fertility (My Story)

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In the modern world, people seldom have the time to stop, think and relax. It can seem like life is happening at 100 miles per hour.

What impact is this modern lifestyle having on our fertility? We’re into month 6 now and still haven’t managed to conceive. We are following the right fertility diet.

Is the monthly stress holding us back? I took a more detailed look at the impact of stress.

The Mind & Body

 

They say that the mind and body are often connected. Over the course of this last year or so, as I have struggles with numerous bouts of stress and anxiety. This connection has made itself very apparent to me.

The first thing to go when I’m feeling all off kilter is my sleep. This then often sends me tumbling in the spiral as the zzzz…..elude me.

I don’t know whether it was the mental awareness workshop which was held at work yesterday, or the fact I’m on my second self-help book of the month, but I somehow felt, and I wouldn’t use the word inspired exactly. I thought it might help to pen what we (I?) have experienced and gone through over the course of the last month.

And, one day, I hope that I might even be able to look back at this blog and see how much I struggled. While seeing how far I’ve come and appreciate what I have. As I said, I hope so anyway!

Great Stress Relieving Resources

Firstly, I have to share the book which helped me quite significantly I stumbled across by chance on an old school friend’s Instagram page. She shared her struggle with anxiety and she was re-reading the book.

For £2 I felt I had nothing to lose.

Coupled with my new commute to and from Soho in London it was win win.

I have, and would recommend this book to anyone suffering from this debilitating mental state. The Anxiety Solution, A Quieter Mind, a Calmer You by Chloe Brotheridge is great. Another week, another book, this time one that had been on my audio-book list for sometime, Happy by Fearne Cotton is also an inspiring read.

the anxiety solution

This one re-iterates that famous people with their seemingly picture perfect lives also struggle. Both with their mental well-being, just like the rest of us. Even if these celebrities do seem to be able to get pregnant into their 50s!

I did even find adult colouring books when looking for stress relievers:

stress relieving books

Anyway, I digress somewhat.

The Vicious Monthly Cycle

Last month, when my period arrived I had the usual accompaniment of frustrated tears. I was feeling sorry for myself and had that impending feeling of hopelessness.

I had just picked myself up, dusted myself off ready to go through the motions of another month of slight anticipation, doing everything right that we are supposed to do, endless waiting, followed by yet more disappointment. Yet this month, was set to be different.

Not quite satisfied with that four weeks of joy, life had other ideas.

Lets throw in a curve-ball. One Sunday my sister face times me, I’m like why are you face timing me, it’s really weird? ‘You’re going to be an auntie’ she told me. I was plodding along, just putting clean washing away trying not to think too much. Obviously I put on the happy face, and thankfully technology wasn’t quite on my side with the signal and audio dying out.

everyone is pregnant

We carried on Whatsapping, I excitedly shared about our own plans, for it to turn out they had started trying the same month we had. Initially I was happy to be able to share things with, then the hopelessness set in, sending my mental state into an almost unknown person I had become.

My Mum, who knew, then called me about a million times to see if I was OK. I was most definitely not Ok. Far from Ok. All the while I knew that another month of undue stress was likely to impact on our ability to conceive. Stress both reduces the chance of conception and virtually kills my libido.

Plus, me being filled with the joys of spring doesn’t exactly help my partner’s libido either! We could know all of the best sex positions but I wouldn’t help in this case.

The Cat Out Of The Bag – Our Pregnancy Efforts Revealed

cat out of the bag

She also shared that my sister had also revealed my plans with her fiance and even my Dad.

I mean, I didn’t say not to. Nonetheless, I didn’t think it would be the kind of thing which is blabbed.

Coupled with the comparison, I was gutted my surprise was ruined.

I’d had a tiny baby grow in my Amazon basket since before Christmas that said ‘I love Nanny and Grandad’.

nanny and grandad baby grow

No longer would this be a surprise, and now just feels like an expectation. When we share the news (one day hopefully) it’ll be just like oh yea, we knew that anyway, which makes me quite upset.

Next up and I admit on reflection this is probably a little selfish, but we all know those that suffer with anxiety have the ability to get to entangled in their own thoughts its so hard to climb out. I always thought I would have the first grandchild.

My mum had been desperate for grandchildren for the last three or four years, and she hopped up and down on the spot when I told her we were trying. I felt like that feeling too had been snatched away from me, made worse by my Dad’s emotion to the news (and he is a man of very few words).

I Dreaded The Sympathy

Finally thoughts were tumbling thick and fast in, out and constantly around, what would the family think of me? Would they feel sorry for me?

I really didn’t want to become one of those couples people feel sorry for, would they think I was jealous? (Am I? I don’t quite know, I know I feel pretty weird about it all, but not sure it’s jealousy) Would they think I was copying my sister when (if?) I announce my news, the last one to the baby party in the family. All the while wondering the impact this was having on my own ability to have a child. Did I even want to bother anymore?

The photos I’m going to have to pose for, the baby shower, every little detail posted on Facebook for the world to see, judge and form an opinion of.

Lastly, I think there were feelings of sadness we didn’t share what we were both going through.

She had shared with my younger cousin who lives up the road from her, and geographically I hadn’t seen her much at all between Christmas and Easter when all the family was around.

Then finally, my mum shared that she had been feeling bummed out and disappointed at our younger cousins baby shower we attended recently, so she knows how I’m feeling.

But neither have addressed it, the metaphorical elephant in the room.

elephant in the room

Throw A New Job Into The Mix

Not only was there this news to contend with, I was hugely apprehensive starting a new job the following week. After the disastrous last one I was extremely anxious this one would not turn out the same way.

A few weeks on, we haven’t really spoken besides some general group Whatsapp chat. We had a family meal for my Dad’s birthday that I very much wasn’t looking forward to.

I’m not quite sure what to say, just like I’m sure she’s not quite sure what to say either – this could be pure speculation.

I don’t quite know how I’m supposed to act, I can’t do a daily check-in how you feeling, hope you’re eating your vegetables, I’m not her Mum.

I shared that I knew you couldn’t do certain things while pregnant like tint your eyebrows or go in a Jacuzzi, sauna or steam room. You should text her Mum says. But then come the feelings of resentment, why should I? I’ve done all my reading and research, surely she should have done or at least be doing the same. While trying to make myself feel better, I found this great pre-pregnancy bucket list:

pre pregnancy bucket list

Finally came the guilt. The guilt my Mum couldn’t even enjoy the news she had been so much looking forward to for all of those years. Then, just to really rub salt into the wounds came the news one friend got pregnant by accident. After taking a risk ONE TIME with a new guy, and another friend revealed he was expecting his second. It was then I decided I just can’t let every external thing affect me in such a negative way or I’ll end up being driven crazy (queue more spiraling thoughts of ending up alone surrounded by furry cat children).

The Impact on My Mental Health

The overarching effect of all of this on my physical health has been quite devastating. I started off the month taking my basal body temperature. I’m sure that anyone that’s been trying to conceive for a while will probably already know, but this is the temperature your body is after a period of rest.

You poke the thermometer into your mouth to measure your temperature in the morning. Usually, on the day of ovulation you’ll see a dip. Then the day after an elevated spike which then stays consistent until you approach your period.

example basal body temperature

If you have conceived, your ‘bbt’ remains elevated. I continued on with taking mine when I could. I’m pretty sure I ovulated on day 20- almost 6 days later than when ovulation typically happens – though every woman is different. I could see the direct impact that stress was having on my ability to conceive. If my ovulation day had moved by 6 days, it becomes even more difficult to time your effort correctly.

We carried on, sadly doing the baby dance (you know what that is 😉 and hats off to Chris he was an absolute trooper. Many other men I’m sure would have run for the hills the mess I was in.

Direct Impact On Fertility

I had heard lots of times that stress makes it harder to conceive but I never really knew why. And during my gardening leave I continued to throw myself into Dr. Google. It revealed that stress can affect the way the hypothalamus works.

This is the gland located in the brain which helps to regulate your appetite, your emotions as well as the hormones that signal to your ovaries that its time to release an egg.

In more extreme cases you may not ovulate at all. So if you time sex hoping to conceive around the mid-month window you will find you missed the most fertile part of your cycle for the month.

However, if you do manage to conceive despite the stress and late ovulation there are little known risks to the baby as the second phase of your cycle will always remain constant. This phase in known the luteal phase, and at day 32 my Ovia app says I am in the very late part of this phase.

If you don’t conceive the knock on effect is a longer cycle and delayed period.

The Familiar Waiting Game

This morning my bbt was still elevated at 98.15 12 days past ovulation. Ovia was telling me to take a pregnancy test, which I did, with the outcome being negative. So now it’s just a waiting game.

But unlike other months I am trying not to wish the time away. Instead using what I’ve learnt to focus on the now, accept myself for who I am. Not focussing on the mistakes I made in the past, or fast-forward too far into the future.

Nor should I tangle myself up over what I think people think of me, after all this is extremely narcissistic; caring too much what people think never used to be something that bothered me and I would absolutely love to go back to that way of being.

Lastly, I need to remember social media is a digitally enhanced highlight-reel. No one puts the crap they’re going through on there (and if they do they pretty swiftly either get blocked or deleted).

The feelings are still pretty raw, its upset me putting it all out here again, but seems its probably a fairly common situation for some women to be in. I just need to accept a few things; life’s not fair, everyone is different and to focus on today.

 

 

 

 

 

…and thanks for stopping by. I thought I would introduce us; myself (Jo) and my boyfriend Chris. We’ll both be uploading our innermost thoughts and musings over the next phase of our lives which we hope is a very happy one. Welcome to our world x

3 thoughts on “The Impact of Stress On Fertility (My Story)”

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