A recent report published in the journal Human Reproduction found that women with high salivary alpha-amylase levels were 29% less likely to get pregnant and are more than twice as likely to be declared infertile. For the uninitiated, alpha-amylase is a sign of psychosocial stress.
Note: While there’s no direct correlation between stress and fertility, a few studies suggest that stress could affect your ability to become pregnant.
Irrespective of when you’re trying to get pregnant, reducing stress can enhance the quality and longevity of life. Here are a few strategies that might be helpful:
- Practice Mindfulness:
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your awareness to the present moment, i.e., being aware of where we are and what we’re doing without being overwhelmed by situations around us. While mindfulness is something we all possess, we become consumed by our thoughts, assuming them to be reality. Practicing mindfulness daily reduces activity in the amygdala, the region in your brain that processes threatening situations. You can train the mind to detach from your thoughts and observe things dispassionately with continued practice.
- Practice Pranayama:
Practicing pranayama or breathing exercises helps connect the mind and body. With pranayama, you can remove toxins naturally, improve sleep quality, reduce high blood pressure, enhance cognitive performance, and reduce stress. It also helps improve lung function and even reduces food, alcohol, or cigarette cravings. Some pranayama exercises can slow down breathing and calm the nervous system.
- Practice Meditation:
Meditation is not about controlling thoughts; instead, it is about observing them without judgment. To meditate, you will have to sit in a quiet place and follow your breath as you inhale or exhale. Every time the mind wanders, and you forget to focus on your breath, you gently remind yourself to refocus on the breath again. This takes time, and consistent practice, but the benefits are aplenty. It gives a sense of calm and peace and even helps gain a new perspective on things and situations.
Call me if you’ve been trying to conceive naturally and looking for a holistic solution. I am Dr. Noelle King, a practicing gynecologist in Portland who writes regularly about Portland women’s health.