Reproductive Health Center, Tucson, Arizona

New study reveals the importance of stress for fertility

New study reveals the importance of stress for fertility – fertility clinic El Paso area

We’re always watching the scientific journals for new research about how to help couples achieve pregnancy. A new study done by scientists at the University of Nottingham reveals important information that could help to guide fertility treatment at clinics around the world.

What did the study show? – fertility clinic El Paso area

The scientists wanted to find out whether levels of the hormone cortisol would affect the chances of getting pregnant. They tracked women who were undergoing fertility treatment (specifically, IVF). Levels of cortisol were measured in two ways. The levels of cortisol in the saliva were measured several times over the course of two days. This measurement shows the immediate cortisol level. In addition, the levels of cortisol in the women’s hair were measured. Because cortisol builds up in the hair over time, this provides a longer-term measurement of cortisol levels, averaged over several months.

The study showed that the success rates for IVF were inversely related to the levels of cortisol in the hair, but not related to the levels in the saliva. In other words, the short-term cortisol levels were not important and did not affect IVF success rates in this study. However, the higher the long-term cortisol levels, the lower the success rates for IVF.

What is cortisol? – fertility clinic El Paso area

Cortisol is a stress hormone. It’s produced when you’re under any type of stress – for instance, when being chased by a predator. In this type of situation, cortisol is secreted during the stressful event, and then goes away soon after the event is over.

However, in the modern world, many of our stressors last for a long time. We may have a stressful job, which causes us hours of worry every day. We may worry about our finances, about politics, about our children’s futures. All of these types of stress tend to stick around for a long time. This causes cortisol to be chronically high, such as in the women in the study with high levels of cortisol in their hair.

It’s important to know that it’s the long-term cortisol levels that matter, rather than the short-term levels. Exercise, for example, raises cortisol in the short term. However, once you’re done exercising, cortisol goes back down. People who exercise regularly have lower levels of cortisol overall, although it does go up temporarily while you’re exercising. (This helps the body to maintain enough blood flow and levels of nutrients to allow the muscles to work hard.) Knowing that a temporary surge in cortisol is less important than the average level makes doctors confident in recommending exercise to those who are trying to conceive.

As fertility specialists, we can recommend that our patients not be concerned about a single stressful event, but focus more on dealing with the long-term chronic stressors in their lives. In general, the sources of our worry (such as jobs, traffic, etc) aren’t likely to go away, but we can learn to manage our responses to these events so that we don’t experience so much stress.

How can we control stress? – fertility clinic El Paso area

At our clinic, we’ve been working to help both partners reduce stress during the fertility journey for years. We’ve always believed that it’s important to support parents-to-be holistically. To us, it would be worth reducing stress simply to improve the quality of life for the parents-to-be. The added benefit of improving your chances of conceiving makes it even more important to try to control stress as you go through your fertility journey. We’ve noticed for years that those who work on controlling their stress have the best chances of conceiving.

We’re on the cutting edge in terms of offering families several different ways to work with stress. We offer classes with a mind-body medicine expert, who teaches you how to manage difficult emotions and prevent yourself from getting stressed. We also work with an acupuncturist and a massage therapist, both of whom can help your body feel great while also helping to decrease your stress levels.

We’re committed to helping you do everything possible to conceive your beloved child, including lowering your cortisol. To us, holistic fertility care is not the latest new thing, it’s the way we’ve always treated our patients.

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