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We have all heard of the term "stress," but what is "stress" and how does it impact male fertility?
When we experience "stress," - a known or perceived threat which activates self-defense responses - our bodies produce stress chemicals such as cortisol, prolactin and adrenaline. During periods of increased stress, blood flow decreases to our core organs and increases to our limbs. Our breathing and heart rate increase, our vision becomes more acute and we tense up for the impending event, which is creating these symptoms. Some of these responses are mediated by the hypothalamus and pituitary.
In addition to these normal body responses to stress, we see negative effects including: sleep disturbance, gastrointestinal problems, and impaired sexual function. Since both the pituitary and the hypothalamus have a role in reproductive hormones, it makes sense that stress would then impact fertility.
Add to these factors, fear of failure, performance anxiety and feelings of inadequacy associated with past infertility, and the impact of stress is significant, both physically and psychologically.
With this information, is seems logical that stress-reduction exercises and stress management education could aid in reducing stress-complicated infertility.
Breathing exercises, visualization, massage and other self-help techniques can aid in reducing the production of stress hormones, which negatively impact both your psychological and your physical health, and which can worsen or contribute to male infertility.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|