Updated: Oct 7, 2021

What is Stress and How Does It Affect the Body?

Best Fertility Centre

"Stress" refers to the response of the sympathetic nervous system to a triggering event. The body releases hormones, such as adrenaline, into the bloodstream, resulting in the "fight or flight" reaction. This physiological response helps us become more alert, motivated, and ready to respond to real or perceived danger.

However, stress can have a negative effect on your body if it becomes continuous or chronic. In the short term, chronic stress can lead you to have difficulties falling asleep, causing you to toss and turn all night.

Long-term stress can lead to increased blood pressure, upset stomach, headaches, and can also lower immune system functioning. From a psychological standpoint, chronic stress can eventually result in depression, panic attacks, and anxiety.

Like many things in life, stress is a part of most fertility journeys, but thankfully, there are things you can do to combat some of this natural response in a healthy way.

How can stress impact a fertility patient?

Sometimes, infertility patients respond to the stress of being unable to conceive by aggressively pursuing treatment and procedures. Other patients withdraw and isolate themselves from family, friends, and community. Neither of these extremes is ideal for patients who seek to treat their infertility and build a family.

Ways to De Stress during Fertility Treatments

Best Fertility Centre

1. Give worry an appointment

IVF is stressful, there’s no denying it. Along with the other fertility challenges you’ve had in the past (along with the rest of your daily stressors), the first step is accepting that stress is a part of your life.

Give yourself a designated period of time every day to worry about IVF. For thirty minutes or ten, worry all you want. When that time period is done, attempt to stop worrying. Any worries that arise can go on a list that you can worry over the next day.

2. Take ten slow breaths

Focusing on large, expansive, belly-filling breaths is a central practice in many calming routines because it has instant effects on the body.

Take ten slow, deep breaths before reacting to stressful situations, but also bring this gentle IVF relaxation technique into your daily routine. Set an afternoon and evening reminder on your phone to breathe. Wake up with ten deep breaths. Or, take deep breaths before meals or another daily activity.

3. Practice safe exercises

Mild to moderate exercise is one of the best relaxation techniques, especially for those with anxiety.

Overall, work within your comfort zone, avoid high impact exercises, stick to moderate levels of activity, and always ask your doctor if you have questions.

4. Tense up to relax

Progressive relaxation is one of the best IVF relaxation techniques that you can practice anywhere. It allows you to notice where you’re storing your muscular tension. Once you notice it, you can relax during the day.

To perform a progressive relaxation routine, start at one end of your body (typically the toes). Slowly tense up, or tighten each area. Then, focus on relaxing it and letting the tension go. Pair it with deep, belly breaths. Move to the next section until you’re at your face and head.

5. Find a self-care activity that relaxes you

The previous IVF relaxation techniques are foundational. Pair them with self-care activities that bring you delight in order to truly learn how to relax during IVF therapy.

Some ideas to try include: Yoga, Aromatherapy, Massage (self, partner, or professional), Meditation, Enjoying music, Spending time in nature, Reading, Cross-stitching or other crafts, Playing games, Cooking, Painting, Playing with your pets, Dancing.

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