STRESS AS A SOCIAL FACTOR IMPACTING ON FERTILITY
Stress is defined as pressure or tension exerted on something.
It is also defined as
a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. So we can say stress is an abnormal state for the body.
What makes the body feel stress?
The brain is responsible for the body’s functions. The brain controls all activities and coordinates them. Take the brain to be the body’s CPU or the operating system to your devices. It regulates what happens in the body and programs all the processes.
If for any reason there is a strain or pressure on any system or unit in the body, the brain picks up the signals and readjusts the body’s system to handle that strain.
There is a normal functioning mode for the body and a mode for when the body is under stress. Just like a computer or phone. If for example the storage is almost used up, some functions stop automatically to enable
the phone carry out basic functions, or if the battery is running low, the phone goes into battery saving mode where some functions stop as well.
If the phone is flashed or the battery charged for each of the examples given, the phone returns to full function.
This is how the brain also regulates the body. When there is stress, the body goes into stress mode and some functions are not termed very important. The ones seen as important by the brain are optimized to keep the body functioning.
So breathing, heartbeat, basic digestion to produce energy, excretion, production of enzymes for important functions, control of blood pressure, prevention of a heart attack; these continue until the stressful situation is overcome.
Functions not deemed too important for survival are relegated eg weight gain, growth, reproductive processes, etc.
The factors that makes the brain pick up stress signals from the body are :
▪️Exposure to sunlight
1. Sleep patterns: A person is supposed to sleep for 6 to 8 hours a day. Have you ever wondered how they came about this time? Scientists have discovered that the brain needs to be kept inactive for this length of time to function optimally. When the brain is sleeping, it still carries out some subconscious activities. These subconscious activities are required by the body to carry out other deliberate activities. With respect to Fertility, it has been discovered that the brain releases melatonin, a hormone that stimulates the sex organs (ovaries, testes, etc) to to produce other hormones needed for reproductive functions, only after 4 to 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. So if the brain doesn’t sleep for 6 straight hours daily, no melatonin. If no melatonin, no hormones for reproductive function.
If the brain/body is not getting enough rest, it is under stress. Check your lifestyle and see if this is a source of stress.
2. Exposure to sunlight: our exposure to the sun regulates our biological or internal clock. This regulation is responsible for assigning functions for the body. If our daily dose of sunlight is poor, the body cannot regulate its functions properly. This is a strain on the systems of the body.
3. Exercise: an active body(not necessarily aerobics), is a healthy body. This is because the metabolic processes all function optimally. With reduced or inactivity, the body’s metabolism slows down which puts a strain on the systems. The other extreme to this is excessive activity or exercise. If the body is over exerted, the strain makes the body switch to stress mode. Moderation is key.
4. Mental state: The state of the mind is an important factor. The hormones responsible for happiness are also implicated in sexual and Reproductive functions. The hormones that fuel negative emotions antagonize the hormones of reproduction. They are also the stress hormones. Happy emotions help the body function towards reproduction. You will agree that you don’t have the urge for intercourse when angry or bitter or sad.
5. General health: if a person’s health is compromised, the body automatically switches to stress mode to reduce the load on the body and enable it feel better as quickly as possible. Taking care of the health therefore returns the body to normal function quickly.
The thing about the stress mode is that the brain causes the body t release stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which helps the body survive under the stressful situation. These two hormones suppresses other hormones in order to reduce the work load on the body and keep the body surviving until the stressful situation passes, whatever it is whether poor sleep, I’ll health, poor mental state, excess or too little activity or poor contact with sunlight.
Bringing the body out of stressful conditions as quickly as possible helps the body get back to normal mode where all the functions are carried out optimally.