Does Stress Cause Unexplained Infertility?

By |2023-09-28T15:31:29+00:00September 28th, 2023|Acupuncture, Fertility, Getting Pregnant|0 Comments

Unexplained infertility refers to a specific medical situation where, despite undergoing a thorough evaluation, a cause for a couple or an individual’s inability to conceive cannot be identified. This can be incredibly frustrating and emotional for those who are trying to conceive, as they often have little to no understanding of why they’re having difficulty. Unexplained infertility and the underlying causes can vary substantially from person to person, yet there are known contributing factors. As a fertility acupuncture clinic in Oakland, here are some of the main underlying causes that patients come in with:

1. Ovulation irregularity: Irregular or absent ovulation can sabotage the release and fertilization of an egg. Underlying hormonal imbalances, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or a luteal phase defect, may contribute to irregular ovulatory patterns.

2. Sperm anomalies: 30%-40% of all infertility cases result from male-factor causes.  This includes sperm count, motility (movement), or morphology (shape).  These variables can reduce the chances that an egg will fertilize or implant. Frustratingly, in cases of unexplained infertility, the male partner’s fertility parameters might fall within normal ranges.

3. Fallopian tube issues: Structural problems with the fallopian tubes can prevent the sperm from reaching the egg or obstruct the fertilized egg’s journey to the uterus. These may require specific testing in order to identify.

4. Endometriosis: Affecting an estimated 10% of reproductive-age people worldwide, this condition is common.  It occurs when the tissue of the uterus grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis can cause inflammatory processes, scarring, adhesions, and structural issues within the uterus which may interfere with the fertilization and implantation processes.  Though endometriosis is common, it’s not well understood.  Diagnosis and treatment options still remain limited.

5. Uterine abnormalities: Structural abnormalities of the uterus of both known (trauma to the tissue) and unknown origin (infection), such as fibroids, polyps, or adhesions (Asherman’s syndrome), can impede implantation and embryo development.

6. Immunological factors: There are cases, where the immune system mistakenly identifies sperm or embryos as foreign invaders or pathogens and attacks them. This immune response can cause the detriment of fertilization or implantation.

7. Genetic abnormalities: Genetic abnormalities in either sperm donor or egg donor can contribute to infertility. These abnormalities may not be diagnosed with routine testing.  Oftentimes times genetic testing can be cost-prohibitive for patients, clinics, and insurance companies alike.

8. Lifestyle factors: Smoking or a history of smoking is a large contributor to diminished ovarian reserves.  Other causes include drug use, obesity, poor nutrition, and high levels of stress, which can negatively impact fertility.

Stress and the emotional challenges that come with infertility take a massive toll on the body.  Truth be told, being a human in this day and age takes a toll on the body.  Stress dampens the body’s innate capacity to heal and challenges the immune system in its capacity to regulate offenders from nonoffenders.  It would be incorrect to say that stress causes all conditions, including unexplained infertility.   But equally incorrect is to say that stress isn’t a major contributor to the health crisis humans face today.  There is a delicate hormonal dance necessary to conceive and carry a healthy pregnancy to term.  Overwhelm, time stress, and women’s health are areas of great importance as highlighted by Dr. Libby Weaver, a physician who saw the hormonal challenges women were facing and aptly coined the term “rushing woman syndrome”.  Stress is a real player in the diagnosis of every single chronic disease, unexplained infertility is no exception.

To date, there is no singular cause for unexplained infertility.  Acupuncturists spend time with a patient to determine a pattern of imbalance, a diagnosis based on the patient’s pattern, and what treatment options are appropriate/available.    An acupuncture clinic may be the last stop for a patient before the end of the line, so to speak.  To put it bluntly, some folks won’t see an acupuncturist until there is little to no hope.  It’s advised to infertility patients interested in fertility acupuncture in Oakland to begin getting acupuncture at least three months before the desired date of conception.  The reason is simple: stress can cause a variety of chronic conditions and stress reduction is one of the primary benefits that acupuncture has on the body.

Schedule your free 15-minute consultation to see if you’re a good candidate for acupuncture.


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