Traffic, important deadlines, relationship issues, your Facebook news feed—life is full of stressors and challenges. And unfortunately, all that stress can wreak havoc on your body.
Stressful situations cause your brain to release hormones like cortisol and epinephrine that trigger your body’s “fight or flight” response. Your heart races, your breathing gets shallow, and your muscles tense. This response, which gets your body ready for quick reaction, was super helpful back when humans needed to run from angry mastodons. In this post-mastodon world, however, it poses a serious health risk if the stress hormones keep firing because the perceived threat doesn’t go away.
Stress hormones can seriously mess with your reproductive system. When your body perceives danger, its number one priority is survival. So, it basically puts all non-essential systems (like reproduction) on administrative leave while things like your respiratory and circulatory system work like maniacs to protect you from mastodons. Or traffic. Or whatever else you’re stressed about.
Here are some ways stress affects your reproductive health and what you can do about it.
It interferes with conception
Several studies have shown that women with a higher levels of stress may take longer to get pregnant, though researchers are not yet sure exactly why. One theory is that stress can cause disruptions in your cycle. If you’re extremely stressed, you may ovulate later or not at all, which means your fertile days may not fall when you’re expecting and you may miss your conception window.
It causes irregular periods
Stress is one of the most common causes of irregular periods. This is because stress hormones suppress sex hormones. (Remember, stress hormones aren’t interested in you getting pregnant right now. You have a mastadon to run from.) Increased cortisol reduces how much estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that regulate your cycle, get produced by the body. If you have too much cortisol in your bloodstream, the time and flow of your cycle could change.
It might make PMS worse
According to a 2010 study, women who experienced stress in the weeks leading up to their periods reported more severe cramping, bloating and mood swings than women who did not feel stressed early on in their cycles. Even if the stress had subsided by the beginning of a new cycle, the effects of the stress were still present. Of course, PMS is often also a source of stress for women. Eep!
It can cause vaginal dryness during sex
Stress makes it hard to concentrate, so it makes sense that it would make focusing on arousal more difficult. Even if stress doesn’t completely zap your libido, it can still make it harder to get turned on. Physiologically, your body may not provide enough blood flow to be able to lubricate.
What you can do
It’s pretty clear stress management is important for overall health. If you’re planning to get pregnant in the next few years, it’s particularly important to consider the impact on your reproductive health. Reduce the stress in your life by bring some love and attention back to you. Drinking Freya tea twice a day is great way to do this. Not only will the ritual allow you to reconnect with the present, adaptogenic herbs like the ones in Freya have been shown to reduce cortisol levels! Plus, the formulas are specifically designed to protect your fertility and improve your reproductive health.*
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*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.