Updated: Nov 3
Stress is something they can affect all of us, whether it is due to money worries, family or relationship issues, work, or of course the stress of going through infertility. None of these circumstances should be underestimated in the profound affect they can have on your health and fertility.
I had a bit of a wake up call myself last month when I received the results of a new stress test that I trialled. Whether it is new supplements or tests, I always like to try them out on myself first before recommending to my clients. I trialled a cortisol hair test from a lab called Cortigenix. It was very simple to do, I took a small sample of hair from the back of my head and sent it to the lab for analysis.
Often people do a blood test to check their cortisol levels but this only gives a snapshot in time. Assessing blood cortisol levels can be less reflective of your long term stress levels, and they can be falsely elevated if you are stressed at the time of having your blood drawn. However, hair testing gives you a reading of the past 3 months, a useful measurement of your stress levels over a period of time.
I suspected my cortisol results to be slightly on the higher side having just gone through a particularly busy few months. However, I didn’t suspect them to come back as high as they did, the result showing I was highly stressed! So the next step was to think through what could be the root cause:
Common stress triggers:
Poor Diet - a diet low in nutrients and high in sugar and processed foods can be a stressor on the body. However, I didn’t think was a contributor.
Excess alcohol - my intake is pretty low.
Under or over exercising - a work in progress, but I feel I’m at a place where I get regular movement without over doing it.
Poor Sleep - I am guilty of not always getting a good nights sleep, and waking early, but I do try to prioritise my sleep.
Psychological stress - this I think is my fall down, family issues and major house renovations has caused a lot of stress recently.
Infections - infections and oxidative stress in the body can also cause cortisol to rise and should also be ruled out. I did have flu during the 3 month period so this could also be a contributing factor.
After receiving this alarming result what action am I taking? Well it’s my cue to slow down, taking some time away from work to spend with family and friends, and giving myself some "me time", every day. Me time is not selfish it’s essential. It’s true you can’t pour from an empty cup, I know I need to focus on myself so that I can keep giving help and support to others.
I'll be making sure my diet is really nutrient dense, focussing on key nutrients that can easily be depleted by stress such as vitamins B & C, and magnesium. Plus taking some additional supplements which can give that extra boost, such as ashwaganda, lemon balm and l-theanine. Please note that supplementation is a complex area so always work with a health professional before deciding which supplements are right for you. I will also be retesting in 3 months to check that my actions have had positive results.
I think this test has taught me a good lesson, showing that stress is essential to manage. Even if you don’t feel stressed (which I didn’t think I was) you probably are to a certain degree, and therefore don’t ignore this important piece of the health & fertility puzzle.
If you would like to see what your stress levels are like I have a special code you can use to get a discount on the Cortigenix cortisol test (code: Julia10) Sometimes seeing your results in black and white can be a great motivator to taking action.
If you would like some support with your fertility book your free Fertility Review to find out how I can help you.
Disclaimer: Nutritional Therapy is not a replacement for medical advice, practitioners always refer any client with ‘red flag’ signs or symptoms to their medical professional. The information provided here is general and is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any diseases or conditions.