How Stress Affects Fertility

Infertility rates are increasing quicker than ever before and no one is talking about the underlying root causes of this.

Unfortunately, I come across a lot of clients not being able to conceive and my job as an integrative health practitioner is to figure out where the imbalances are.

If your body is not in its best position state, it will not let you get pregnant because it believes that the environment is not safe enough to bring another life into it.


When it comes to emotional stress, this affects the way the brain signals to produce hormones. For example, anxiety will increase the stress hormones (cortisol & norepinephrine).

Chemical stressors include toxins coming from the environment (e.g. pesticides, plastics, heavy metals) as well as those coming from the gut (e.g. candida, SIBO, parasites and H. pylori). An overworked liver will also have a huge impact because apart from its role of detoxifying excess estrogen, it works as a filter for toxins, which keeps the body healthy and fertile.

Calming the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is also just as important as working on things such as hormone imbalances, gut issues, an overworked liver and nutrient deficiencies.


If a woman is under chemical or emotional stress, the body will produce more stress hormones to get through the survival-based state.

When there are so many toxins in the bloodstream, the brain gets a signal that the body is under stress and so adrenaline will be released. This will then lead to an increase in cortisol production and this has a direct impact on the ovaries.

The body will downregulate the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and this is what stimulates the growth of the eggs in the ovaries and causes estrogen to rise.

Once estrogen levels peak, this increases luteinizing hormone (LH) which causes the egg to be released from the ovary. Progesterone then rises and it hits its peak around day 21-23.

When the body is under stress, it will not only downregulate FSH and LH but progesterone as well. Remember, progesterone is a precursor to cortisol so your body will break down progesterone to produce cortisol.

The body is not messing up, if you’re in a stressed state, your body will not bring another life into the world. It is very smart and it would not do that to the new child or to the mum who is going to get pregnant.

You can test your hormones yourself right at home and the best time to do this is during days 19-22 of your cycle.


Infertility is almost always fixed by getting the body out of that stressful environment, whether it is toxins, psychological stress, lack of nutrients, etc. The goal is not to supplement with progesterone but to reduce stress and the output of norepinephrine and cortisol. This will allow a female’s body to naturally believe it is in a safe, life-giving state.

It is very important to make sure we’re doing things that are helping us eliminate the daily toxic exposure. This is another reason why I recommend doing the functional medicine reset that I provide a lot of my clients with every 12 weeks.

They’ve been doing seasonal detoxes in Ayurveda for thousands of years to clear the body’s channels, strengthen digestion, remove toxins (known as “AMA” in Ayurveda) and break negative habits and their effect on the body.

We should all be helping each other and if you know someone dealing with this issue, pass the information on to them! 

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