I want to write a blog text about stress — because I know that stress is something fertility patients fear and think a lot about. They are scared that their stress affects the fertility treatment.
I often hear: Do you think I stress too much? Is that why I am not pregnant yet? Everyone around me tells me that I stress too much. Maybe they are right?
I find it interesting how we define stress, most of us think about stress as something negative. Is it?
When I searched for the definition of stress, I found this:
“A state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc., something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety, physical force or pressure”
A woman that loves to exercise and to be active, can feel stressed by the thought of lying on the couch, waiting to get pregnant.
Another woman that hates her job, feels stressed by going through fertility treatment and at the same time go to work every day.
A third woman that loves her work, and is capable to move her focus away from treatment when she is at work, will feel stressed if she needs to stay home.
I do believe that we can put stress into two different groups; positive stress and negative stress – I do believe that all kinds of stress are not only negative!
Fertility patients are interested in how the stress affects the fertility treatment and their chances to succeed.
What we experience as stress is individual, but what I see, is that going through fertility treatment is stressful for most of the patients.
At a fertility show in London, I was listening to an interesting workshop about stress. It was about how we respond to stress, and how our response affects the fertility more than the stress reaction by itself:
The consequences of stress can be that:
- We smoke more
- We eat more
- We drink more
- We stop trying to get pregnant with our partner
- We break up as a couple
Besides how we respond, stress gives signals to the brain, that again give signals to stress hormones that tell our body to focus on the organs and put reproduction on hold. But it is not stress by itself that causes the biggest problem for fertility patients, it is how we respond to it. That’s the basics I got from the workshop.
As I have written in previous blog texts I do believe that the unpredictable and the uncertainty in the fertility project causes stress and makes the waiting time difficult.
I also believe that it is not possible to make a baby through fertility treatment without stress. How is it possible not to stress when you are in a project that involves a lot of time, money, emotions, and medications you need to take for periods — every day!
Now, I will write about an interesting perspective, when it comes to stress and donation!!
Stress and egg donation / Stress and embryo adoption
How can your stress affect a donated egg, sperm or embryo that has not even been inside of your body before the day you transfer the embryo?
Most of the women I talk to, go through a process with egg donation, some use their husband’s sperm, others donate sperm too.
If a woman tells me how concerned she is about her stress affecting her egg donation attempt, I ask her; how can your stress affect eggs that are still inside another woman's body?
Single women that do embryo donation are also concerned about their stress affecting their result, I ask them: How can your stress affect embryos that are frozen and lie in a freezer in Russia, and you are in another country far away?
I do know that a successful egg donation attempt, depends on more than perfect embryos, but I believe that we need to find ways of thinking that will make us feel less stressed and help patients not respond to the stress with too much food, cigarettes, alcohol, or broken relationships.
When it comes to treatment that involves donation, it is a big difference how you act before and after transfer.
Before transfer, live as “normal”. You know what is healthy for you. You know what is positive and negative stress for you. After transfer — follow the clinic´s recommendations, they have years of experience and knowledge about what is the best behavior after transfer.
Normalise the stress you feel, everyone feels stress in your situation, but try not to think that your stress is affecting eggs or embryo far, far away if you are preparing donation treatment.
Might that thought make you feel less stressed? I hope so!
I wish you the best of luck!