Researchers at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences have published a paper in the Annals of Epidemiology finding that in a sample size of 400, women with an increased perception of stress during the ovulatory window have about a 40% reduced chance of conception. One’s ovulation window can range anywhere between cycle day 11 and 21. For those who felt general increased stress (regardless of where they were in their menstrual cycle), the researchers found a 46% reduction in conception. From a Chinese medicine standpoint, this research is not at all surprising as it is considered one of the contributing factors of infertility traditionally. Because of this, we often advise our patients to reduce their stress levels from multiple angles. Some of the more effective ways to do so include:
- Acupuncture: One of the best “side effects” of acupuncture is reduced stress perception that may last up to several days. In addition, there is a lot of research showing that acupuncture can improve your fertility irrespective of stress. In fact our practitioners have been involved in several published studies showing beneficial effects of acupuncture on fertility.
- Chinese herbal medicine: A variety of herbal combinations have been shown to improve the body’s ability to deal with both physical and psychological stress. Herbal medicine has also been shown to improve many fertility parameters including ovarian and uterine function.
- Meditation: Meditation requires discipline and regularity. Apps and YouTube have made meditation extremely easy to do these days but you have to find something that resonates with you personally. What is relaxing to one may be extremely annoying or grating for another.
- Yoga: Years ago Brandon and Wendy created a fertility yoga DVD called Restoring Fertility. It includes 4 distinct sets, one for each specific phase of the menstrual cycle. These sets integrate yoga poses with acupuncture theory and can be extremely helpful to increase fertility. There are over a hundred reviews on Amazon and many people have attributed their pregnancies to the addition of these sets to their routine. The sets are available for download or streaming through Vimeo, or they can be purchased as DVDs through Amazon.
- Exercise: Exercise is important for just about everyone but what type of exercise you do is extremely important especially if you are chronically stressed. Doing high impact or strenuous exercise is perceived by the body as additional stress so if you are already pushing the limit with home or work stress, a Crossfit class or 5 mile run may be somewhat counterproductive. Instead, consider incorporating the Fertility Yoga, which is exercise but works specifically on your reproductive system, or lower impact exercise like walking, hiking, Tai Qi, swimming or certain types of dancing.