Stress and the Reproductive System

Excessive stress is bad for your physical and mental health; did you know it affects your sexual health too? Stress can rob you of your sexual desire, cause impotence in men, and inhibit women from achieving an orgasm.

Impotence is caused by chemicals that constrict the smooth muscles of the penis and the arteries reducing the flow of blood in and out of the penis. This prevention of blood flow can prevent an erection.


For women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome, stress seems to intensify the problem. For many women, premenstrual syndrome is an exhausting, emotional time that causes stress in the entire family. Stress can irritate the problem and cause women to self-medicate with alcohol, food, or drugs. Many women also become compulsive shoppers when premenstrual syndrome is made worse by stress.


Fertility can also be adversely affected by stress. The hypothalamus gland, which is the gland that produces the reproductive hormones, may be shut down because of stress. Increased cortisol levels may shut down the monthly menses cycle. Studies show that stress has an impact on women who miscarried.

Another study found women with shortened menstrual cycles if they had a high-stress job. If a woman is struggling to get pregnant, a stress-reducing therapy is recommended. Fertility rates went up by 80 percent of those women who worked at reducing stress.

One example, a woman who had been trying unsuccessfully for two years to have a child found her husband under suspicion for bank robbery by the FBI. This removed the pressure and stress of trying to get pregnant. Immediately after her spouse was cleared, and she was not worrying about getting pregnant, she got pregnant within a month! She now has a healthy son to remind her to reduce the stress in her life. Stress and worry can prevent a future pregnancy.


Stress also has an effect on pregnancy and the unborn child. We have often heard that a womans emotional health affects her baby, now we have study results to prove that old wives tale. Stress during pregnancy gives a mother a 50 percent higher risk for miscarriage. Stress has also proved to have an effect on birth weights and premature births. These are risk factors for infant mortality.

One researcher believes that stress for the mother can influence the way a babys brain and nervous system reacts to stressful conditions after it is born. Stress may also alter blood flow to the placenta. Increased adrenal hormone levels are also noted in pregnant women who are under excessive stress.

Pregnant women have routine precautions they need to take. Abstaining from smoking and alcohol, eating healthy foods, and taking the necessary prenatal vitamins. Prepare for your baby by collecting clothes and setting up a nursery. Prepare your baby for good mental health and rid your life of unnecessary stress. Those mothers who have made the effort to de-stress have found they have babies that are happier and give less cause for concern.