Stress and the Female Body
How stress impacts a woman’s body
While every female is wonderfully unique, there are certain ways that stress can be detrimental to her body. By understanding these consequences, you can start today to work to reduce sources of worry for your best health.
The role of stress on pregnancy
Stress processes can have a detrimental effect on pregnancy, indicates a recent research review. This analysis looks at literature surrounding anxiety of the expecting mom and highlights how this anxiousness is a risk factor in premature birth or low birth weight.
Premature birth weight refers to birth before reaching 37 weeks gestation, while a low birth weight is 2,500 grams or lower than that.
Of course, there are several other factors also playing a role in psychological research on women, including the pregnant woman’s socioeconomic status, amount of support she receives, and responsibilities (personal and professional). Money is a significant source of stress too.
In addition to potentially harming baby, stress impacts a woman’s body in other ways, including her mind. As a study in the Neurology journal found, those who undergo regular stress are 40% more likely to have mild cognitive problems than those who were less prone to feeling negative.
MCI or mild cognitive issues show themselves as slight memory loss and can even become Alzheimer’s disease. It is different than normal age-related memory loss.
Physical issues with chronic stress
Females who feel stressed out can also experience physical problems, explains the Office on Women’s Health (OWH), such as:
Decrease in appetite
The OWH explains that short-term stress can upset the stomach and over time become irritable bowel syndrome. Nausea and vomiting can occur.
As per this University of California study, women may experience symptoms of stress more often than men. The result can be a higher rate of depression and anxiety.
Fertility and stress
In addition, stress over time can negatively impact a woman’s ability to get pregnant. Research backs up this statement, with females who experience higher stress levels than other women having more issues getting pregnant.
Specifically, this study found that stress significantly lowered the chances of conception each day in the fertile window. Thus, it makes sense to make efforts to manage stress to help improve your odds of becoming a new mom.
How to combat stress
While I wish there was one definitive way to alleviate all worries, there is not. What works well to calm one person’s mind might not help someone else.
With that said, there are common ways to fight stress, including:
Be active – Exercise can help improve mood and relax muscles that get tense in difficult times
Take “me time” – Become comfortable with yourself and indulge in hobbies that relax you
Reach out – Talking to supportive friends and family can help you get a new way of looking at a problem and potentially lead to a great solution
Sleep – Aim for enough sleep that you feel rested when awaking the next morning, and do so on the regular
If you find your mood still does not improve, seek out a professional, such as a therapist. This person can provide you with the tools to handle emotionally difficult times. A psychiatrist may also be necessary to provide medications, depending on your situation and what the professional deems best for you.
Group support is also available online. For example, women who feel alone as a result of infertility can find local support groups through Resolve.org. if they live in the US.
About the Writer
Christy Birmingham blogs at When Women Inspire, a platform that is all about living the best life possible. Find tips and information on health, wellness, lifestyle, family, and more.