In our modern life, stress is an indispensable part. Career, jobs, studies, incomes, business, money, property- all are associated with some sorts of stress. The problem gets exaggerated when it affects the family life. Because, at the end of the day, we all want to enjoy a happy family life. And a family life has its sense when the husband and the wife are in harmony. Needless to say, that a family is incomplete without a kid.
How stress affects family life? Effect of stress is not limited to mind. It has serious effects in the body. It affects blood circulation and the heart. It puts pressure on nerves. It also alters the blood sugar level. And he end result is diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart diseases. Ultimately these diseases affect all the organs of our body. Some people try to get rid of stress by smoking and alcohol. These will simply put burden on already affected heart and blood.
Stress also alters important hormone levels in our body. The hormones needed for basic reproductive function (sex, conception and pregnancy) are either increased or decreased. Prolactin hormone is increased. Normally prolactin is needed to secrete milk from breast to fed the baby. But abnormally increased prolactin leads to milk secretion from breast (even without pregnancy) and irregularities in periods. Very high prolactin may even lead to problems with ovulation (at middle of each period, the egg gets released from ovary) and as a result, the woman cannot conceive a baby. Even in male, high prolactin leads to difficulty in erection of penis. In some male, it can lead to gynaecomastia (growth of male breast). Excessive high dose of prolatin leads to loss of sex desire in male and interferes with spermatogenesis (sperm production).
Apart from increasing prolactin, stress can directly affect the hormones secreted from the pituitary gland of both male and female, the testes in male and the ovaries in female. As a result, all the reproductive functions get disturbed leading to problems in sex (loss of desire in both male and female, problems in erection and ejaculation in male), irregular periods in female and ultimately pregnancy cannot occur.
The diseases occurring as a result of stress (diabetes, hypertension etc) also affect the normal functions of ovaries causing irregular periods, even no periods at all. There may be problems in ovulation and thus difficulties in achieving pregnancy. Even if pregnancy occurs, it may be aborted because of these diseases. Similarly in male, diabetes and hypertension will cause sexual dysfunction and will affect sperm production.
The lifestyles accompanying stress are also responsible for harmful effects on family life. Smoking and alcohol have been mentioned earlier. Stress may be associated with abnormal weight gain and that will affect the woman’s life in badly manner. There will be disturbances in periods, ovulation problems, infertility and even pregnancy loss. Sitting for long time while driving or keeping laptops on laps, will increase the temperature of scrotum in male and thus will decrease the sperm production.
Again there is a vicious cycle- stress leads to family problems like problems in sex and in having pregnancy. That will in turn increase pressures from family (especially in-laws) and the society. This will simple aggravate the stress.
So, what can be done to avoid these problems? The answer seems to be simple- that is avoiding stress. But it’s very easy to say and difficult to commit. First thing is try to bring stress at home just keep it at your workplace. Avoid smoking and cut down alcohol consumption. Avoid sitting long time in front of computers and take periodical rests when you are working continuously. The rest does not mean that you have to lie down in bed; just have a short walk. Start exercise that will keep you healthy and reduce your stress. Yoga is an Indian culture that taught the Western world how to reduce stress. Take plenty of water and green vegetables and fruits. Avoid fast food. Always put on comfortable dresses. And if all of these do not work, try if you can do something to avoid the stress- like changing the workplace, talking directly to your co-employees or the employer. If still all these cannot help, consult psychological counselor. A timely counseling will reduce stress significantly. In very few cases, drugs may be needed to reduce stress. But remember, drugs can only be useful if you are trying all the other measures. Simple dependence on drugs won’t help much.
Now regarding family problems associated with stress follow simple measures. Often we feel embarrassed to discuss these issues. Try to enjoy time of personal intimacy to the fullest. Don’t think of any problems during that time. If still there are problems, don’t hesitate to take medical help. And please remember, the drugs used to solve sexual problems may have side effects. So, these should be taken only after medical consultation.
In case of female, maintain optimum weight. Avoid fast food, alcohol and smoking. If periods are irregular, maintain a menstrual diary. Consult a doctor to find out if there are some serious issues associated with these problems (like hormonal problems, thyroid diseases, even some tumours). You doctor will then decide the best treatment for you. If there are low desire for sex, don’t hesitate to take help of doctor. It may be a symptom of hormone deficiency that can affect your different systems (like bone, heart, blood etc). Now a days, there are lots of treatment options available for this.
For male, if there is low desire, consult your doctor to find out the cause of this problem. At the same time, avoid any anxiety, alcohol and smoking. Sometimes there are problems with erection. Instead of trying drugs shown in media or newspaper, feel free to talk to your doctor; because erection problem may be caused by some serious issues like heart disease, diabetes etc. So, if you have erection problems, consult doctor. He/ she will counsel you and give you the best treatment. Now if the problem is with ejaculation (like early loss of semen or very low semen), that issue can also be solved in the same way.
What’s about infertility problems? Stress and infertility are inter-related, as described before. Now, if there is problem with fertility, please remember few facts. Even in totally healthy couples, the chance of pregnancy after regular intercourse in fertile period (in the middle of menstrual cycle, usually) is only 20%. Though it appears disappointing, majority of couples conceive in course of time. So, couples are requested to report to doctor only if they tried regularly for one year without any protection. Then your doctor will assess you and try to find out the problem. And again, treatment of infertility is also depending on chance. Hat means we have to increase the chance above the natural chance (which is 20%). So, even one treatment fails, there is enough scope, so no need to lose hope. In other words, there is no need to increase the stress.
So, stay healthy, keep your mind healthy by avoiding stress and keep your family relationship totally stress-free.