Consistent low energy is one of the most commonly listed complaints in my fertility practice. Fatigue has quickly become a norm in our society as men and women run on empty every day. Stress, sleeplessness, working out too much, overcommitting yourself, it all adds up to fatigue, and that's bad news for your fertility.
Let's be clear, constantly feeling exhausted is not normal, and it's not something you have to "just live with".
As we run ourselves into the ground, our bodies suffer. Fatigue is closely related to sleep issues, and just like when you don't get enough sleep, hormonal function starts to decline. Cortisol levels and thyroid dysfunction are two main culprits for chronic energy issues—and both have serious impacts on reproduction.
The Cortisol Connection
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands when your body is under stress. It’s what causes the “fight or flight” response, which kicks into gear when your body feels threatened. This is great in emergency situations, but many people experience the “fight or flight” response on a daily basis in response to work and home stressors.
When you are under constant stress, cortisol levels rise continually—sometimes to the point where your body’s ability to sustain those levels becomes suppressed. In these cases, adrenal fatigue sets in and severe exhaustion can result.
What does this mean for your fertility?
In order to produce cortisol, your body needs progesterone, which is usually used to support a healthy uterine lining, aid in embryo implantation, and help maintain pregnancy.
When too much progesterone is converted to produce cortisol during stress, not enough remains to support your fertility.
Your adrenal glands (the source of cortisol) are also in charge of producing sex hormones such as DHEA, testosterone, and estrogen. These hormones can all be disturbed by adrenal fatigue, resulting in changes to menstruation, sex drive, and sexual function in both men and women.
The thyroid is one of the most important organs for regulating energy and metabolism. When it isn’t functioning correctly, a condition called hypothyroidism can develop. According to the American Thyroid Association, one in eight women will develop a thyroid issue during her lifetime and up to 60 percent of those with thyroid dysfunction are unaware of their condition.
Fatigue and weight gain are among the primary symptoms of hypothyroidism. In addition, a healthy thyroid is necessary for ovulation to occur, for normal fetal development, and for miscarriage prevention.
Many fertility specialists believe that even very mild thyroid dysfunction can severely impact fertility.
If you suffer from fatigue, or just aren’t as energetic as you know you could be, listen to what your body is telling you and visit your doctor if you are concerned. If you've never had your thyroid levels checked, it’s a good idea to have it done at your next OBGYN or RE appointment.
What You Can Do About Fatigue
Ready for the good news? You don't have to live with fatigue and allow it to compromise your fertility. Here's a few things you can do right now to boost energy.
- Give your body time to recuperate. Slowing down and being aware of your everyday energy levels will positively reinvigorate every aspect of your life, especially your fertility. Learning how to say no, and to be respectful of your own needs is a great starting place.
- Sleep tight. Sleep is a super important component of managing fatigue. That's why Conceivable builds custom plans to help our users get enough sleep to feel like the energetic fertility rockstars we know they can be.
- Eat right. You are what you eat right? So getting the right kind of nutrition is critical to feeling energized throughout your day. Heck, if you're asking your body to build a whole new person, you're gonna need the best resources you can get. Conceivable make a nutrition tune-up easy with customized meal plans, shopping lists, and recipes.
Again, feeling exhausted day in and day out isn't normal, and fatigue isn't something that you're stuck with. Thousands of women have changed their fertility with Conceivable (read some of their success stories here), and for many of them increasing energy levels made a big difference — not just in their ability to get and stay pregnant — but in their everyday lives. It's just one more side effect of living a Conceivable life that we can't get enough of.