Stress, Hormones and Infertility

By 8th June 2014Hormones, Stress
Pregnancy Test

Part 3 of our Hormone series

Nowadays, it is common for many women to not begin having families until their thirties.  With more and more individuals attending university,  graduate school and then spending a number of years getting themselves established in careers, often considering children is now being delayed later than it previously has been in previous generations.  While the average woman (and remember this means that half of women will not be able to conceive and carry to term at this age, and half of women can conceive and carry later than this), according to a number of sources, can deliver their last healthy baby at approximately age 41, fertility has been declining already for over a decade.  Thus, if you or your partner is in a situation where she has waited to have children after age 30, managing one’s stress and hormone levels throughout their thirties and into the early forties is essential to increase your odds of: 1) getting pregnant; 2) having a healthy baby; and 3) carrying to full-term.

Progesterone Steal

As we mentioned in the previous article, it is becoming increasingly common for many individuals to become victim to what we call the ‘progesterone steal.’  This is where unrelenting stressors are stressing the HPA axis and prompting an unrelenting demand on cortisol production from the adrenals.  It is important to remember that as human beings, we are NOT designed to be under stress most of the whole day, long day after day.  Couple this with the fact that most individuals are not exercising, and thus not releasing many of the built up stress metabolites by sweating and exercising, and we have a situation where many individuals’ hormonal axes are fatiguing years before natural aging processes would have kicked in to do so.

Progesterone is especially important for a healthy pregnancy for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it is incredibly important in ensuring a successful implantation into the uterine wall so that there is not an early miscarriage.  Secondly, optimal progesterone levels also help support a pregnancy’s odds of going close to or full-term.  Thus especially for older moms who are at an increased risk for miscarriages and other potential complications (especially for those aged 40 or beyond), having optimal progesterone levels is something to definitely strive for!

Some innovative and holistic physicians in fact in the US will test a woman’s progesterone levels during pregnancy and if they see they are trending low, they can be appropriately prescribed bioidentical progesterone to support the pregnancy to full-term.

If you, your partner, or a loved one may have lower levels of progesterone than may be optimal, it may be wise to see a qualified healthcare provider about optimizing these, both for overall health and especially if she is considering getting pregnant soon.  

One last note before closing, it is also helpful to remember that biologically, the body responds to environmental and internal cues, including perceived levels of stress.  So, if you or your partner are especially stressed, from a biological standpoint, it isn’t an optimal time for the body to BECOME pregnant.  So, you may experience greater difficulty in doing so because essentially you are fighting the body’s innate wisdom in knowing whether this may truly be a good time to bring a child into the world.  Thus again, one of the best things a woman and couple can do to prepare for pregnancy is to take good care of themselves, keep stress to a manageable and minimal level, and again, make sure those hormone levels are looking good and youthful!

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