Stress in youth increases infertility: The facts are here

Infertility is not just due to medical reasons but is largely dependent on lifestyle factors, too. Lifestyle is not just about diet and exercise. Stress levels play a significant role in deciding if a person is leading a healthy lifestyle or not.  The impact of stress on infertility is somewhat a matter of debate. Stress and infertility have an indirect coupling. The way youth handle their stress impacts fertility. Stress has an impact on many aspects of life, including the diet consumed, sleep patterns, exercise schedule, etc. The cumulative effect of all these factors impacts fertility.

What does research say about stress in youth increases infertility?

There are contradicting studies on stress lower fertility. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine states, “Even though infertility is very stressful, there isn’t any proof that stress causes infertility.” 

There are compelling studies that state otherwise, too. In 2018, the Boston University School of Public Health found that women who had high levels of perceived stress experienced lower levels of fertility than those with less stress.

There are cases where only one of the partners was significantly more stressed than the other; there was a lowered chance of conception. But please understand that despite a lack of long-term effects on the ability to get pregnant, extreme stress can affect fertility in the short term.

In younger women, irregular periods can occur due to an unusually stressful time, but the cycle could return to normalcy after the bout of stress has been reduced.

Stress in youth increases infertility – Lifestyle Factors

The main impact that stress has on fertility in youth is that they tend to adopt unhealthy habits that have been proven to impact fertility. The most common fertility unfriendly behaviours due to stress in youth are:

  • Excess or too little sleep
  • Erratic eating habits
  • No exercise or too much exercise to handle stress
  • Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Start or resume smoking
  • Sleep deprivation may lead to drinking too much caffeine
  • Surprisingly, people lose interest in sex due to stress

It’s easy to see that all of these are habits that can affect fertility in youth.

Effect of sleep irregularities on fertility in stressful youth

If your lifestyle is making you a frequent late-night person or a very early riser due to work-related calls, the constant lack of sleep can affect your body and your fertility. If a person doesn’t get healthy sleep, they are more likely to experience obesity, which can increase the risk of pregnancy problems and miscarriage. Frequent night shifts also mean fewer opportunities for intercourse during the fertility window. Women also experience irregular menstruation in some women which is again a risk factor for fertility problems.

Advice to youth on maintaining a healthy sleep pattern:

  • Create a regular bedtime routine that works for you and maintain it
  • Stay away from electronic devices before sleep
  • Drink soothing teas just before bed if they suit you
  • Do not drink coffee late afternoon and evening

Effect of diet irregularities on fertility in stressful youth

Stress makes the dietary patterns erratic as youth tend to eat in less healthy ways. This type of undisciplined eating habit leads to weight gain, and obesity has, in turn, been linked to fertility problems. There is another type of relationship between diet and stress, where youth cut short on food as they lose their appetite when under a lot of pressure. This leads to malnutrition and deficiencies in necessary vitamins and minerals, which are crucial to maintaining fertility. Obesity and weight gain impact fertility in both men and women of young age. Most young people think that since they can digest anything at any time, they should adopt unhealthy eating habits. However, such habits will have consequences later in life when they are trying to conceive. If young women are underweight, it can cause no menstrual cycle, which means no ovulation, and without ovulation, they can’t get pregnant.

Smoking, alcohol and drug usage

Nowadays, youth resort to such habits for temporary stress relief. They might start small but can get addicted soon. These habits reduce sperm production in younger men. This is one of the reasons that male infertility is also on the rise.

In women, smoking can cause blocked fallopian tubes, increased cervical cancer risk, damage to the eggs in the ovaries, and an increased risk of miscarriage. 

Secondhand smoke, where there is constant exposure to smoking, can impact fertility too.

Excess caffeine usage

Young ones think coffee is better than alcohol and smoking. That is only partially true. Excess caffeine consumption is also not good for fertility health. As mentioned, it leads to ovulation issues in women, and for some, there is a loss of appetite and sleep.

How can youth healthily cope with stress? 

Healthy workout habits

Working out healthily can help lower stress and lead to a healthier body. Exercise aids in healthy weight management if that is a factor for you. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 and 300 minutes of exercise per week.

There are a wide variety of workout programmes, including yoga, walking, swimming, aerobics, gym, and zumba. Exercise benefits are not limited to weight management but also aid in better appetite and sleep. People who exercise regularly have better hormonal health, too. So it’s good to work out under the guidance of a trained professional so that they can tailor the training programme to your requirements.

Meditation and Yoga

Both meditation and yoga are age-old techniques that have helped numerous youngsters around the world deal with stress. Join meditation classes, and after a few sessions, you can practise on your own. Yoga provides both physical and mental benefits. Start slow and make gradual progress. Many companies offer such classes inside the campus itself. Take advantage of such programmes. 

Consider therapy

There is no longer any taboo about consulting a therapist. Therapy will help you identify the stress factors and unburden yourself. Therapists maintain confidentiality of the information you share with them so it can be a safe space for you. Therapy may lower your stress levels, allowing you to make healthier lifestyle choices that, in turn, positively affect your reproductive health and fertility. 

We at ZIVA Fertility Clinics would say that stress itself may not directly cause infertility, but it can lead to lifestyle changes that may make it more challenging to get pregnant. So do not ignore it and think that it will get better with time. If you find yourself resorting to unhealthy habits, please consider seeing a therapist. We at ZIVA Fertility Clinic offer counselling services to youngsters on how they can retain their fertility. For more information, please visit our website or contact us at +91-9100002737 or +91-9347406900