Do yourself a favour and type the following into Google: “common infertility causes”. You’ll find the usual PCOS, Endometriosis, STIs, inappropriate body weight… I checked it out and was rather surprised to see that none of the top search results included what I believe to be the most influential factor in my infertility story.

Many of you will know the drill. Months and years pass. The window on the home pregnancy test bares a single line, once again. These things must be broken, right? “Relax, just let it happen,” say well-meaning friends. If only it were so easy to take a chill-pill.

Women with infertility often report elevated levels of anxiety and depression, so it is clear that infertility causes stress. What is less clear, however, is whether or not stress causes infertility.

We can’t deny that stress affects us all, and it often takes a huge toll on our general bodily function and wellbeing. Surely, then, something as intricate as ovulation or conception, could very well be influenced by the presence of chronic stress in a person’s daily life?

Seems quite obvious now, but I outright denied this at first. Sure, I had a very busy and successful private practice, and was seeing a therapy caseload more than double the size of that of my local colleagues, but I was absolutely in love with what I was doing, both clinically and business administratively. I was thriving under the pressure and busyness, and saw myself as someone who coped with stress rather well. What I did not realise was the huge negative impact it had on me physically. Upon outward inspection, this wasn’t really noticeable, but my eyes were truly opened to what I was possibly doing to myself internally in the weeks following our fertility specialist’s words, “I think the main cause could very well be stress.”

So, if stress can influence your chance of conceiving, managing it must improve your odds, right? This was most certainly true in our case. After 6 years of putting the needs of my precious little clients ahead of my own, I made the incredibly tough decision to close shop and take a sabbatical. Three months later, and I didn’t even realise I was pregnant – after two years of it being such a focal point in our lives.

Now, I know taking a leave of absence is not something we all have the option of doing at any given time. It was something I forbade on numerous occasions. What the concept does expose, is the importance of making time for self-care. This battery visual really helped hit the message home.

Let’s make a conscious decision today to take an active role in protecting our wellbeing and happiness. I always thought that I was too blessed to be stressed. As it turns out, I needed to dial back on the stress in order to be blessed!

Author: Kerry Belgrove

Kerry Belgrove is a qualified Speech-Language Therapist who graduated top of her class at the University of Stellenbosch, receiving special recognition awards for best student in academic, clinical and research work. She has gained clinical experience in a number of different health, education and private settings, but it is with the establishment of her own private practice that her passion for serving the paediatric population truly flourished. As a health professional, wife, and mom-to-be, Kerry is inspired to offer her expertise in helping parents through all walks of life.

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