Stress is your body’s automatic response to demand. But can stress prevent implantation?
Ask a couple who are trying to conceive how they’re feeling, and in all likelihood, stress will be somewhere on their list of emotions.
Not just about the process of conceiving, but the idea that life is changing, and the excitement and challenges that lay ahead. It’s not surprising.
But how does stress affect the body — and the process of conception and implantation specifically?
While research and opinions on the topic are ongoing and vary, here’s our lowdown, with some insight from embryologist and fertility expert, Navya Muralidhar.
In this article: 📝
- What can prevent implantation?
- Can stress prevent you from getting pregnant?
- Can stress cause embryo not to implant?
- Can getting angry affect implantation?
What can prevent implantation?
Implantation is the process when an embryo beds into the uterine lining, called the endometrium.
It usually happens around 9 days after ovulation and fertilization.
So what can prevent implantation?
Medically speaking, implantation is usually prevented by a gene abnormality in the embryo or chronic endometriosis, an invasive and painful growth of the uterine lining.
So where does stress fit into the equation?
Can stress prevent you from getting pregnant?
Stress and fertility often go hand in hand.
Whilst there can be many anatomical reasons behind fertility struggles, if you and your partner have been cleared of these, stress might be playing a part.
Stress is not just a feeling.
Stress is your body’s automatic response to a change or increase in demand outside your “normal” state.
Stress literally alters the chemical balance inside our bodies.
And we’re not just talking about mental stress; we mean physical stress, too.
Working out too hard, or the opposite — fuelling your body with too many unhealthy foods, alcohol, caffeine, and/or nicotine — can sometimes place your insides under overwhelming stress.
It’s important to note, there is a difference between a “normal” amount of stress, and an excess, or constant, state of stress.
Research has shown that low to moderate levels of stress (think, an upcoming visit to the in-laws or work presentation) don’t impact a woman’s chances of a healthy pregnancy.
However, being under a constant state of stress, be it an environmental cause like over-exercising, or a constant emotional stressor like unemployment or financial struggles can play havoc on your reproductive system.
Here’s how stress and getting pregnant can be linked…
- Stress inhibits the release of hormones needed for ovulation, which can prevent ovulation from happening at all, or make the timing of your ovulation within your cycle unviable for fertilization (i.e. ovulation right before menstruation).
- Stress can degrade sperm quality and the quantity of sperm within semen.
Being in a stress response increases the cortisol levels in your body.
To make cortisol, your body requires progesterone, which is also the hormone needed to assist healthy pregnancy.
The stress requirement of cortisol overrides the pregnancy requirement, therefore your reproductive system doesn’t have the levels of progesterone needed to support implantation.
In short, your body, while it’s trapped in its adrenaline-fuelled fight-or-flight response will think to itself, “Hey, maybe now’s not a great time to get pregnant”.
Can stress cause embryo not to implant?
So how exactly can stress affect implantation? This comes down to blood flow.
To create the perfect environment for implantation, your endometrium requires extra blood flow.
However, long-term stress can reduce the blood flow to the uterus, meaning it might be less receptive to implantation.
In general, the lining of the uterus must be receptive to the embryo for successful implantation.
But research has found that stress or maternal anxiety can reduce this receptivity of the uterine wall, thus affecting implantation.
Can getting angry affect implantation?
There’s no research to suggest getting angry will affect implantation, although if you’re feeling chronically stressed, anger might be an emotion that is right around the corner.
Trying to conceive can be a challenging time and give a heady mix of emotions.
You can find your own ways of managing them, whether that’s practicing mindfulness, walking in nature, listening to – or playing – music, yoga, or anything else that relaxes you.
And you can also try counseling or therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy to reduce your stress.
And don’t forget, the mamas on Peanut are always here for you.
You can join our community to meet, chat, and learn from like-minded women.