How Increased Anxiety Affects Conception?
It’s a well-known fact that anxiety levels skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 2020 to October 2021, about 35% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety. For comparison, about 10% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in 2019. For many people, anxiety has persisted, affecting relationships, job performance, sleep, substance use, and other aspects of daily life.
Adding infertility to the mix just increases anxiety and depression – one study showed that 3 out of 4 women undergoing infertility treatment show signs of anxiety. Many people are now wondering if their increased anxiety levels are impacting their ability to get pregnant.
Some studies show that stress and anxiety can impact fertility, whether people are undergoing IVF or trying to get pregnant naturally. Most of these studies are looking at a variety of stress biomarkers, like stress hormones or inflammatory markers, but they also looked at uterine lining, immune markers (NK cell activity), and reproductive hormone levels. Because stress and anxiety impact all of the above systems, they can impact any aspect of the menstrual cycle or sperm production.
Anxiety comes in many forms, from situational to general, from quickly-resolved to chronic. Common symptoms that accompany anxiety are insomnia (and resulting exhaustion), restlessness, irritability, tension, pain, stomachaches, nausea, headaches, chest tightness, and palpitations.
The age-old question which came first is somewhat moot: “Am I unable to get [my partner] pregnant because I’m anxious or am I anxious because I’m unable to get [my partner] pregnant?” The result is the same, sadly: Anxiety and no baby. The studies above don’t differentiate between “stress” and “anxiety,” but the same lifestyle changes that reduce stress also reduce anxiety.
No matter what the cause, it’s always best to reduce stress to help alleviate some anxiety and reduce its physical effects. If you suffer from increased anxiety for any reason and are also trying to build a family, seeking out acupuncture treatments can be a great addition to your care plan.
Acupuncture has been shown in multiple studies to reduce anxiety infertility and IVF patients, making it more possible to continue with treatments and go on to have a healthy baby. Since acupuncture reduces both stress hormones and inflammation, it can improve your fertility while it reduces your anxiety.
Once you’ve got regular acupuncture treatment sessions booked, it’s time for some home care to support your moods. Even little things can make a big difference when it comes to decreasing anxiety.
Try these self-care habits:
Diet: Improve your diet, focus on whole foods (think Whole 30 or Mediterranean diet), reduce or eliminate processed food and alcohol. Limit caffeine to 1 cup per day.
Work-life balance: Carve out time for friends and hobbies, reduce your work hours or duties.
Rest: Try to get 8 hours of sleep per night, take a vacation if you can, learn some relaxation techniques. Take a bath regularly.
Exercise: Move your body in a way that you enjoy 3-5 times per week, or try a daily 7-minute exercise app.
Mental health: Mindfulness, meditation, journaling, therapy, and infertility-based groups
Self-massage: Foot massage is a great grounding technique
If you find that you “try everything” and anxiety is still your constant companion, talk with your primary care provider about other support options. Getting help when you need it goes a long way to finding solutions that work.
Learn More and Schedule an Appointment Today
At Portland Acupuncture Studio, increased anxiety is one of the most common things we treat with acupuncture, and we would be delighted to work with you to help improve your mental outlook. Contact us today to learn more.