Infertility and Stress
Jodi Panayotov

Ipswich, Australia

#1 Jul 15, 2007
What are the links between stress and inability to fall pregnant?

Of all the unwanted advice you get once people find out you’re having reproductive difficulties,‘Just relax and it’ll happen’ would have to be the one least likely to result in pregnancy and most likely to result in the homicide of the advisor. Is there anything else they could say that makes you more inclined to reach for the nearest solid object and repeatedly hit them about the head whilst shouting,‘Just relax and this won’t hurt a bit!’?

I can’t think of anything that infuriated me more, ever, than when I was trying for a baby
and someone who invariably hadn’t been asked for their opinion would utter that inane phrase. Which also proves how stressed I must have been to get so upset.

Now it seems a small blind hairless rodent may actually hold the key to the link between infertility and stress (not to be confused with the large blind rodents who kept telling you to relax), according to research by Dr Chris Faulkes of the University of London and presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

Dr Faulkes has studied colonies of 100-300 of these naked mole-rats which leave it up to the ‘Queen’ of the colony to reproduce. The rest of them have their fertility suppressed by being subjected to bullying (and therefore stress) by this fertility Queen.

It leaves them free to go off and get busy foraging for food rather than indulging in ‘exhaustive reproductive behaviour’(See, I’m sure there are many career girls who can relate to that –‘Not tonight dear I have to finish the Simpson Account and prepare a seminar before waxing my legs.. What?...Only if you must but promise not to wake me..’)

Clare Brown of Infertility Network UK has agreed that stress may exacerbate fertility problems and undergoing fertility treatment in itself is stressful. So where does that leave those of us with fertility problems?

Short of finding a fertility Queen to have our children for us and the usual yoga, relaxation classes etc it can help to keep a diary to let everything out, including annoying homicidal thoughts. Keeping the diary which became ‘In Vitro Fertility Goddess’ helped me enormously, especially as I made a point of sending up everything I was going through it may sound ridiculous but finding the humour in a dark situation can really help, I know it did for me. Not to mention the lives it preserved.

Jodi Panayotov

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