This is the second part of my mini-series of newsletters explaining progesterone and why it is so important for conception. If you missed part 1, please click on this link.
One of the main reasons why women have low progesterone levels, is stress. How does stress affect your progesterone levels? I know we live in a fast world, we live in the 21st century, where things move really fast. Everyone is busy and it’s seen as a good thing, as a positive thing. It’s almost like you have to be busy in order to be successful. Most women don’t recognise the negative effect stress has on fertility, because everyone seems to live in a stressful world, so it’s normal. Yet stress has a huge impact on fertility on so many levels and especially on your progesterone levels.
When you are stressed, your adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline. The problem is, in order to make cortisol your adrenal glands need progesterone. This in turn depletes your progesterone levels. The adrenal glands cannot make cortisol without progesterone. This is often referred to as the ‘progesterone steal,’ your body will steal however much progesterone it needs to make cortisol.
When does your body make cortisol? Obviously when you are stressed, but what does it exactly mean? You can be stressed because you are rushing around all day, because you have deadlines to meet. You may start your day already rushing around to catch the train, to get to work on time. At work you have deadlines to meet. You don’t take time out for lunch, but answer emails instead while eating your lunch. After work you quickly drop into the supermarket to organise food for dinner and rush home to get dinner on the table. You worry about your finances, about how you perform at work. You have family issues that you cannot control, yet still worry about. You dwell on things that happened in the past or things that may happen in the future. You don’t get enough sleep, because there isn’t enough time in the day to finish all your jobs or because you sit on the computer, checking out Facebook, answering emails…… Does this sound familiar? Then your cortisol levels are most likely high. So if you can reduce your stress levels and therefore your cortisol levels, then in turn this will influence your progesterone levels.
Sometimes people feel like there is just so much to do and they cannot reduce their stress levels, but there are many strategies you can use.
- Just taking 5 minutes out to breathe and gathering your thoughts will decrease your cortisol levels
- Write things down, so that thoughts don’t go around and around in your head.
- Plan your day and week. Set your intention for the day every morning. There is a great technique I learned a few years ago and I use it every morning. It only takes about 1 minute, but changes the flow of my day in a very positive way.
- Organise your meals for the whole week. Have a meal plan ready on Sunday for the whole week and do the shopping for the week. Stock up during the week on fresh fruit and vegetables. Precook a couple of meals when you have time. You will spend less time at the supermarket and eat way healthier.
- Guided Relaxation for your Natural Conception. This is a download I give to all my patients. This will prepare your for pregnancy on a mental and emotional level. So many couples have been trying to conceive for years and this causes a lot of negative self-talk. It’s hard for them to believe that it will ever happen. This will encourage a positive frame of mind.
- Any meditation to bring down your stress levels. Even just 5 minutes on a daily basis will decrease your stress levels.
- No screens of any kind (TV, laptop, ipad, mobile phone, etc) for at least 1 hour before bed to prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
- Assess what is important. Is having a baby your number one priority in life, then maybe some other things need to take a back seat. And believe me, as most mothers will tell you, if you think you are busy now, just wait until you have a baby. You have no idea how busy life gets, because all this planning that you may be able to do now and the control that you have now of how you manage your time, that all goes out the window, once you have a baby. The baby screams whenever it wants to scream, it’s hungry whenever it’s hungry, it wakes up in the middle of the night, you are sleep deprived, you are tired. So now is the time to start reassessing your life and what’s really important in your life and if having a baby is your number one priority, put everything into place to make this happen for you and reducing your stress levels is definitely the first step. More to follow about progesterone in the coming weeks.