How Stress May be Stumping Your Summer Loving

Image: Tim Stief Usually around this time of year I go into how important it is to RELAX and enjoy the rest of the summer, before gearing up for the busyness of fall.

And while I still totally advocate for a device-free vacation, long walks with your family, and warm summer nights in the backyard, I have new motivation for you to do so: makin' babies.

All joking aside, have you noticed how a lot of babies these days have spring due-dates? If you do the math, you'll quickly see that summer is a magical time for conception, and a lot of that has to do with stress.


Stress and Fertility

It's undeniable that women are finding it harder to conceive these days.

Some of that has to do with the age at which women in North America are having children - in most cities the days of 21-year-olds starting families is long gone. But it may also be due to the huge amount of stress women encounter on a day-to-day basis.

We face physical stress due to environmental toxins, hormones in our meat, and GMO vegetables. We're also under more psychological and emotional stress than ever before because of unrealistic expectations: women today are meant to have thriving careers, look gorgeous, create beautiful homes, raise perfect children, etc., etc.

And then there's the added bonus that most of us in North America are held to a standard of productivity that's not really serving our health and well-being at all.

With all of that stress, our bodies are in constant fight-or-flight mode - which doesn't exactly leave us an ideal state to conceive a child.


The (Elusive) Science Behind It

The correlation between stress and infertility has been shown in multiple studies over the last 10 years, but the actual reason stress effects your chances of getting pregnant are still a little unclear.

Many doctors believe it has to do with the release of hormones like cortisol and epinephrine when the body is stressed.

Others think it's possible that reducing stress improves the quality of protein in the uterine lining, which helps with implanting the sperm. Still others see a correlation between blood flow to the uterus, which improves with stress reduction, and fertility.

Ultimately, the relationship of stress to fertility is a highly individual one:  stress reduction is so important for someone women, and not as much of a factor for others. This makes it challenging to understand biologically what the cause is.


The Baby-Making Vacation

Despite a lack of scientific clarity, the studies are pretty firm in their findings that reducing stress can help a great deal with conception. Many health professionals - Naturopathic doctors and MDs alike - will actually suggest that couples who have been trying for a while with little luck go on a vacation, and take time out to relax.

Hence the number of spring babies: summer is a great time to step away from stressors and focus on what's truly important in life.

The added bonus of a wee one in your household come next spring is just another reason to sit back and relax with the rest of your summer!