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Infertility Whiplash

Remember how all the media sites back in August were saying how stress could affect your chances of getting pregnant?  Remember how WebMD crowed, “There is now scientific evidence to back up the widely held belief that stress can interfere with fertility.”

Scratch that.

This week, WebMD is crowing,

Stress and infertility have long been linked, with stress sometimes blamed when a woman can’t get pregnant naturally or with fertility treatments.  Now, a new report finds that a woman’s stress levels don’t adversely affect her chances of getting pregnant in a single fertility treatment cycle.


The very same media sites who misinterpreted the first studies are now bringing an equally dubious understanding to a new study that once again appeared in a medical journal.

So which is it?  Can I be stressed or can’t I?  And does any of that even matter?  How many people are actually holding their breath to find out whether stress and infertility are related? (Dr. Domar, put down your hand.)

The fact is that there is already enough evidence that enormous amounts of stress are detrimental to your overall health.  Whether or not this includes your fertility is beside the point.  I wouldn’t leave stress untreated just because it’s not affecting my ability to conceive.  Nor can I truly believe that if I could just relax enough, the lack of stress would overcome my blood’s clotty tendencies.

I think the takeaway here is that whatever stress management techniques you can do — whether it’s exercise or yoga or meditation or listening to really loud music with a lot of obscenities because you find it soothing — is worth doing for your emotional health.  To have a sense of control in a very uncontrollable situation.  To simply do something for yourself.

Oh, and totally ignore the media.  Reading infertility articles can give you whiplash.


1 MommyInWaiting { 02.28.11 at 7:45 am }

Like It! Exactly, it seems every time I turn around they are telling me something different about what I should or shouldn;t do. I have just decided on IVF#4 that I will do whatever I want because it will make no difference anyway!

2 Angela_F { 02.28.11 at 8:03 am }

When I read that article, I was completely confused as to where they’d found all these unstressed couples going through IVF. Maybe my own experiences are clouding my judgement but is it possible to go through IVF and not feel stressed?

3 Erin { 02.28.11 at 8:13 am }

I don’t believe crap the media says. One week eggs are good and the next they aren’t. Same goes for this. It kills me that infertiles are afraid to drink coffee or of eating the wrong things while TTC cause the media says it has adverse affects on our fertility, yet drug addicts have no problem conceiving….

4 a { 02.28.11 at 8:57 am }

It’s the same with everything – for every study, there is a counterstudy that says the exact opposite. Caffeine has been bad for you and good for you. Chocolate is the devil, and then full of healthy antioxidants.

I say that stress is pretty much unavoidable in daily life, and a good majority of the population manages to get pregnant anyway. And my views carry about as much weight as all of the scientists studying this. Until they can figure out the biochemical pathways that regulate these sorts of things, it’s all just conjecture/anecdotes anyway.

5 Kerrik { 02.28.11 at 9:55 am }

I heard a doctor on Creating a Family’s radio show say that he felt it was wrong to tell women going through IVF and IF that if they eat this, don’t eat this, do this, don’t do this, that that is really going to affect the outcome. It places pressure on the woman that she has some kind of control over what is happening, and makes it easier for her to blame herself if a cycle doesn’t work out – questioning, if only I didn’t have that one cup of coffee, or that one piece of candy, maybe I would have conceived this cycle.

Then, my acupuncturist tells me, I absolutely should not have x, y or z, and I don’t know who to believe. Right now, I’m sticking to my one little cup of chai in the morning. I gave up coffee, alcohol and soda, but if I give this up as well I think it will cause more stress than the little bit of caffeine in my morning tea.

6 Denver Laura { 02.28.11 at 10:08 am }

I wonder if this report is just the excuse the insurance companies are looking for to drop acupuncture from covered procedures for infertility.

7 Kelly { 02.28.11 at 10:27 am }

One study does not a new direction make. This is one analysis, using a method that looks at historical data on patients in similar circumstances. I think that the wealth of other studies supporting the correlation of stress and infertility make me lean more towards continuing stress reduction-when it gets to 50/50, I might consider the argument of stress is not correlated with infertility-but I think that will be a while.

8 Chickenpig { 02.28.11 at 3:05 pm }

I still think for that the cost of IVF treatment a fertility clinic could throw in a facial and a seaweed mud wrap. You know, while you’re lying there with your hips elevated under a toasty blanket? Wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe they could throw in a mani-pedi. Instead of johnnies everyone could wear lush terry robes and they could serve valium smoothies.

9 Betty M { 02.28.11 at 3:16 pm }

But isn’t “stress will interfere with fertility” just the flip side of “just relax and you’ll get pregnant”? We rightly slam the second statement and personally I don’t believe the first either.

10 Kami { 02.28.11 at 4:40 pm }


11 Mrs. Gamgee { 02.28.11 at 7:51 pm }

**sporting a huge grin** It’s been a while since I read a post that made me cheer out loud, but this one had me hooting and hollering. I especially liked your “Dr. Domar” line. The media’s interpretation of inconsistencies in studies on IF… could anything be more confusing?

12 Mali { 02.28.11 at 10:16 pm }

So much of this – what you “should” and “shouldn’t” do when you’re trying to conceive – just contributes to our tendency to blame ourselves. And because we all so desperately want the answer why or why not, we buy into this. We can’t blame anyone else, so we blame ourselves. I hate it all!

13 Sara { 03.01.11 at 8:47 am }

Hooray for sanity! Obviously stress is bad, but blaming infertile women for being stressed really doesn’t help.

Chickenpig–my IVF clinic DID include a free foot massage at transfer. It was my favorite thing, despite the fact that I had only a 25% success rate in my 4 cycles.

14 Colorado Dreamer { 03.01.11 at 5:05 pm }

Yeah… now that we’re in the land of IF, we’d really like to take a blowtorch to our DVD “UP” and shoot it to the moon after shattering it to a million bits with a hammer and pouring acid on it. LOL

15 Infertile Naomi { 03.02.11 at 9:41 am }

Infertility is completely stressful and somehow some of us still manage to get pregnant!

16 Bea { 03.07.11 at 9:06 pm }

And they do it without the slightest sense of irony.


17 Holly { 05.13.11 at 11:50 am }

I agree with Infertile Naomi. Stress is a huge factor in any physical condition.

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