We’ve all heard it before, you need to reduce stress as it can impact you fertility. So how exactly does stress impact fertility? Yes the mind and body are ones system, but when I first looked in to this I wanted to understand it a deeper level, I originally trained as an engineer and I guess you cannot take the engineer out of the therapist – although I often think they are very similar, I just now help people to re-engineer their mind!
Conception is one of the most delicate systems in human body. It requires a delicate cocktail of hormones that need to be in balance and continuously changing throughout the cycle. You have probably heard of many of the hormones involved and may well have had test after test checking their levels. But did you know many of these hormones are produced by the brain?
Let me explain.
- The hypothalamus is an area of the brain, kind of in the middle at the bottom. the hypothalamus produces pulses of the hormone GnRH to stimulate the pituitary gland which a walnut sized glad at the base of the brain. The manner in which the GnRH is released by the hypothalamus dictates what the pituitary gland does. If the pulses of GnRH are far apart, the pituitary gland releases follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Closely spaced pulses of GnRH cause the pituitary gland to generate lutenizing hormone (LH).
- In response to GnRH activity, the pituitary gland begins production of the hormone FSH. FSH stimulates the ovaries and causes an ovarian follicle to begin to mature. Each ovarian follicle contains an ovum (egg). As the follicle matures, it produces hormones to automatically reduce FSH production.
- As the follicle matures, FSH levels decrease. The maturing follicle produces estrogen which feeds back to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus then changes the GnRH production frequency and causes the pituitary gland to begin producing lutenizing (LH) hormone instead. LH is responsible for triggering ovulation (as well as regulating testosterone levels in men and women).
- A surge in LH levels causes the mature follicle to release its egg (ovulation). Home ovulation predictor kits detect the LH surge to identify ovulation. The egg proceeds down the fallopian tube awaiting possible fertilisation.
- The portion of the follicle that remains after ovulation is the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum produces the hormone progesterone which feeds back to the hypothalamus/pituitary gland to reduce LH levels.
- Progesterone also causes the uterus to prepare for possible implantation. The presence of this hormone also causes a the elevated shift in body temperature which can be charted as a way if tracking ovulation
- HCG hormone is produced by the developing embryo if the fertilised egg successfully implants in the uterine wall. It prevents the corpus luteum from degenerating so that progesterone and estrogen levels will remain high. HCG is the hormone detected by home pregnancy tests.
- Unless pregnancy results and HCG is produced, both progesterone and estrogen levels fall as the corpus luteum degenerates. This causes the body to prepare for menstruation and the start of another cycle if pregnancy does not result.
In men testosterone and sperm production are regulated by LH and FSH (produced by the pituitary gland in men as well).
The things is….the delicate balance between the hypothalamus and pituitary is vulnerable to stress, obesity, diet, exercise, and many other factors.
Relaxation can help give respites from the stress and you may wish to try the relaxation techniques here or find out what is relaxing for you, a hot bath, a massage, a walk or run, yoga or palates. We are all different so do more of what you enjoy and find relaxing. Follow your bliss!
Hypnosis is more than relaxation. Relaxation downloads/CDs may give you periods of respite, however fertility hypnosis can let go of the underlying causes of stress enabling you to think very differently about your chances of success. You can begin to feel more equipped, empowered and energised for your journey. With the help of these programs you can let go of despair, grief and anger and begin to feel more positive and hopeful which can lead to your success. Hypnosis programs also actively harnesses the mind-body link guiding your body to what you want it to do. Read more on how The Fertile Mind works.
So what are you going to do today to begin to let go of any stress in your system?