The unfulfilled desire to have children almost always has medical causes. The earlier these causes are diagnosed, the higher the chance of success. However, in around 10 per cent of affected couples, no physical or hormonal cause for infertility can be found. Constant stress in the private and personal life can cause a hormone imbalance. This can negatively affect the cycle in young women or the sperm quality in men. Even if stress does not play a role in the beginning of trying to have a child, this can change drastically as the condition persists.
Shame about perceived failure and in order to avoid uncomfortable questions, couples sometimes withdraw from their social environment. Not infrequently this can lead to problems within the relationship. It is advisable to seek psychological help early on.
Effects on women
The menstrual cycle is primarily regulated by hormonal processes. Stress and discontent can have a direct effect on hormonal balance and in some cases can lead to menstrual disorders and other symptoms. When women are under psychological pressure, there may be insufficient or no release of hormones. There is then no ovulation, and therefore no fertilisation.
Effects on men
Stress can also have an effect on the hormonal balance and negatively affect fertility in men. We at the Kinderwunsch Institut Dr Loimer in Linz have found that under the influence of stress, sperm decline both in mobility and number.
Our fast-paced world may be one reason why semen analyses results have been steadily worsening for years. It is quite possible that the slowdown, and home office working – due to the Corona crisis – will noticeably improve the quality of semen. We are excited to see whether more children will be born after that.
A Norwegian study looked at 3,000 women and found that two groups were particularly likely to struggle with fertility problems. On the one hand were women who trained daily and on the other those who worked out to the point of exhaustion. In particular, despite their desire to have children, the 30-year-old female athletes exercising excessively were four times less likely to get pregnant than females who exercised in moderation. The assumption is that intensive training deprives the body of energy and a hormonal chance takes place that is associated with infertility.