Stress - Part 1: Reproductive health

by Swarna Kuruganti March 05, 2017

Part 1 – Reproductive health

Your alarm goes off at six AM, you rush to get dressed, let the dog out, and rush out the door barely getting out the door in time. You head to work, clock in eight hours, come home to take care of the family and hit the hay. Does this sound like your life? If so, you’re not alone.

Most of us live a chaotic life filled with daily stressors. While stress is inevitable, the stress that’s seen today is starting to take a toll on the general population. At least in some people, stress and other psychological factors can worsen skin-health wellness goals.

But why are we at The Clear Scoop, bringing up stress? Because we truly believe in the benefits to a holistic approach to wellness. Staying preventively well means managing stress, having good nutrition and reducing toxic exposures from products we use daily. Health risks can either be affected by or triggered by any one of these inter-connected factors. This article discusses the effects of stress on reproductive health including fertility or pregnancy. Both these wellness goals are very vulnerable to stress.


How Stress Affects Fertility & Pregnancy:

One’s stress levels or duration can dictate the likelihood of conceiving. Stress takes the body into a state of fight-or-flight. And when the body is in an intense, or chronic state of fight-or-flight, conceiving is much less likely because the body is sending out a signal that now is not the right time to carry a child (1). It’s a protective mechanism as a chronically stressed body is not the ideal environment for creating a nourishing womb.

Fertility specialists often suggest “relaxing, and letting it happen”. While it may be the last thing one wants to hear when trying to conceive, chronic stress can affect the functioning of the hypothalamus. This is the gland that regulates appetite, emotions, as well as the hormones that tell the ovaries to release an egg. When frequently stressed out, ovulation can get way delayed, or even worse not happen at all. This can confuse the conception cycle as timing is critical when trying for a baby.

To prove that stress does indeed affect fertility, University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences epidemiologist Kira Taylor, Ph.D., and her UofL and Emory University colleagues performed a research study. They concluded that women who reported feeling more stressed out during their fertile, ovulatory window, were 40-percent less likely to conceive during those months than women who were not stressed out (1).

For pregnant women, stress plays a critical role in not only one’s own health, but also the health of the baby.

A research team at the University of Pennsylvania found that the first trimester was especially important. They found this to be the most critical time in which stress can exert its greatest impact. This study found that stressors such as environmental factors, stress, and malnutrition can all increase the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in the growing baby. (2).
Another study published in 2014 had a surprising and even more troubling finding. The researchers noticed, as tested in rats but with similar markers as in humans, that mild to moderate stress during pregnancy had a compounding effect across generations. The effects of stress grew larger with each generation. (3)


While it is probably not possible to remove stress entirely from our modern way of life, finding ways to manage it will certainly help in the long run. To help manage stress, a quick daily routine can significantly help lower stress levels quickly. Daily routines can include a relevant diet, ten to fifteen minutes of a yoga / meditation routine, regular exercise, talking to a friend or professional as needed, and adequate amounts of sleep. Using essential oils like lavender, rose, frankincense, chamomile, diluted as aromatherapy, in a self massage, or mixed with your daily non toxic skin care products, can also help be a stress reliever. Chronic stress should not be taken lightly. We owe it to ourselves to be more self aware and take proactive control for our wellness goals!



    Swarna Kuruganti
    Swarna Kuruganti


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