Does stress influence fertility? >> Reproclinic
Stress and fertility

Does stress influence fertility?

Psychological stress is a factor involved in both, male and female infertility.

We currently consider stress as a normal aspect of our life and for many it is a part of everyday life. However, although it affects everyone at some point, it’s impact differs greatly in the physiology of each person, and that includes its impact on fertility.

For some people, psychological stress is one of the big factors that contributes to both male and female infertility. Although the exact mechanism that associates it with infertility has not been discovered, several studies have shown that high levels can affect the ability to reproduce.


Female fertility

The hypothalamus is a region of the brain that regulates both stress responses and the release of sex hormones, which could explain the association between stress and fertility. High levels of daily pressure have been associated with a decrease in the levels of estrogen, progesterone and luteinizing hormone (LH), as well as with high levels of the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).

Excessive stress can cause irregular menstrual cycles, anovulation (a menstrual cycle where the release of the ovum does not occur) and even the suppression of the menstrual cycle (amenorrhea).

On the other hand, when the pituitary gland is activated by stress, it also produces higher amounts of prolactin, which can cause irregular ovulation.


Male fertility

Male fertility can also be affected. In humans, the response of the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland to stressful situations causes a decrease in testosterone levels that may suppress spermatogenesis.

Individuals with chronic stress produce a smaller volume of semen with a lower concentration of sperm. In addition, the sperm quality  is worse, presenting anomalies in both, morphology and mobility.


In a study that evaluated the effects of psychological stress on male reproductive hormones and sperm quality, it was observed that men who were significantly stressed had lower testosterone levels and higher levels of FSH and LH hormones than men with normal levels.


In addition to these effects, it can also suppress libido and cause erectile dysfunction, so fertility is also compromised.


Stress in couples undergoing fertility treatments

Both the inability to conceive and the fertility treatments themselves can contribute to an additional burden of stress for the couple. This could lead some couples to abandon the treatment. For this reason, it is important to manage the reduction of stress in couples undergoing fertility treatments.

Very good results have been obtained in patients prone to anxiety, depression and high levels of stress if they were given psychological help during fertility treatments.


If you have more doubts, contact us. At Reproclinic we provide foreign patients simplified treatment processes for their maximum comfort and minimal stress.


Published by Dr Maria Arqué

Medical Director at Reproclinic
Specialist in Obstetrics/Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine

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