Stressful lifestyles can impact on fertility and many natural approaches to tackling infertility, such as acupuncture focus on reducing stress. Alison Williamson is a complementary therapist and she will answering questions at the Virtual Fertility Fair to be held on the first Saturday of Fertility Week 2020.
Alison co-founded Blossom Natural Health, based in Chelmsford Essex which provides a holistic therapy service. She works with women through many life stages including infertility.
“I work with women with or without a diagnosis” Alison explains, “and alongside women and couples who are having a medical intervention such as IVF.”
Fight and flight
There are many factors that can influence a woman’s ability to get pregnant and lifestyle choices come into play in a big way. Although stress has not been shown to cause infertility, it is one of the environmental factors that reduces fertility. Alison frequently experiences women who have stressful lifestyles that lead them to unhealthy habits.
“The nervous system releases the hormones as a leftover reflex from our caveman days. Back in the day, the stressor would be a predator coming to get us, now it can be a pile of emails, but we have the same stress response.”
“If it’s in danger the body activates a fight, flight or freeze response and releases stress hormones such as adrenaline to increase your heart rate and cortisol to boost energy through the release of sugars to help you to escape.
“And back in the cave days once every few days you’d have an animal chasing after you, but now our stressors are relentless, so we don’t have the chance to get over one stress before we’re onto the next one.”
Stress and fertility
In terms of our reproductive system, cortisol released in times of stress inhibits our sex hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone, which has a negative effect on the sperm, ovulation and the libido. The blood flow to the reproductive organs is also decreased.
In addition, cortisol increases appetite, so people want to eat to gain more energy and this contributes to a build-up of fat tissue. Being overweight also impacts fertility.
Acupuncture restores balance
Alison explains that acupuncture can help remedy the harmful effects that stress puts on our body: “The flight or freeze response, that we were talking about, is part of the sympathetic nervous system. What acupuncture does is stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is rest, digest, recover, and reproduce.
“Acupuncture works, by using very fine needles that are inserted into channels of energy along the body. These channels correlate to different organs. So, it’s brilliant for improving blood circulation, reducing inflammation.
“Acupuncture works on a few different levels, but I feel one of the best levels is by helping you to regulate your nervous system.”
Alison will be answering questions in the Virtual Fertility Fair 12.00 – 4:00pm on Saturday 31st October.