Difficulty Conceiving During the Pandemic? It Could Be Stress, This Study Shows

Difficulty Conceiving During the Pandemic? It Could Be Stress, This Study Shows

Researchers found certain neurons impact your reproductive system when you’re overstretched.

Getting pregnant isn’t an easy road for all women. Be brave enough to ask around and you will get a pretty good picture of the situation if you cast your net wide enough. Or, let your fingers do the walking and talking through some online research. If you do, you will discover it’s estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that about 10% of all women in the US between the ages of 15 and 44 who try to conceive have difficulty either becoming or staying pregnant. In Canada, for some reason statistics are significantly different. About 16% of couples there say they have experienced infertility, a number that has doubled since the 1980s.

Reasons: It’s All in Your Head

So, what’s causing all the trouble? According to Canada’s government, in that country men cause about 30% of infertility issues, and women about 40%. Around 20% of infertility is caused by a mixture of factors from both partners, and 10% of the time no one knows what the heck is going on the problem is.

Everything from problems in the uterus, to hormonal imbalances, STIs, early menopause and more can make it difficult to conceive. And then there is stress. That simple factor can also make the road to childbirth a difficult one to travel, scientists are saying.

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Researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand say it all has to do with a bunch of nerve cells located near the base of your brain. These are called the RFRP neurons. They sound a bit like a type of military squadron and in a way, they are. In one study, it was found that these neurons activate when you find yourself in a stressful situation and your cortisol rises. When they do, your reproductive system is then suppressed. While this is annoying, it makes some sense. It may be that nature doesn’t want to burden you with the trials of caring for an infant if your living environment is already pushing you to the brink, so to speak.

Lower Birth Rates

The pandemic is affecting us in many ways. Experts in Canada are already predicting lower birth rates for 2021. Nora Spinks, who is CEO of the Vanier Institute for the Family in Ottawa, Canada, told the popular website CBC.ca  that, when it comes to planned pregnancies, how secure, predictable, and stable someone’s life is often plays into their decision to conceive.

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Right now, families worldwide are choosing to delay pregnancy, or not have a child, Spinks says, due to the economic and health effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Add in the results from the study in New Zealand and stress could also be playing an unseen role. Not only are people choosing to not have kids, but they might also be finding it difficult to do so, even when putting in the required effort.

Having Hope

So, what should you do if you are trying to conceive and it’s not happening? It’s likely that you have already talked to your doctor about it, but if you have not, do this as a first step. Getting pregnant happens overnight for some, and over months or years for others. Stay hopeful and patient.

If you feel that stress is playing a strong role in your life, consider seeking out a counselor to ease your anxieties. Reflect on what changes you could potentially make to lower your tension. Practice mindfulness and habits for healthy living, and consult with a fertility specialist who could help set you on the track to success.

For more information on infertility and when to get help, visit the US Office on Women’s Health online, and read these tips from Parents.com.

photo credits: Maridav/Shutterstock.com

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