Ready or Not: Mental Health and Stress


Everyone feels worried, sad or stressed at times. Very high levels of stress can affect your ability to conceive a baby. Developing babies exposed to high levels of stress may develop problems later in life. If you’re concerned about your worrying, sadness or stress speak with your health care provider. There are many things you can do that can help.

Stress is the emotional, mental and physical strain that happens when something changes in the world around you.

It could be a new job, moving, loss of a family member or friend or a change in finances.

Some stress is positive. It challenges you to try something new or learn how to do something you haven’t done before.

However, high levels of stress or stress that lasts a long time can have negative health effects.

Learn more about stress here.

High levels of stress can change your hormones. Hormones are chemicals that travel throughout the body and help control how your cells work.

Stress can affect your body’s ability to release an egg (ovulate). Since stress may delay releasing an egg, the days in your cycle that you’re able to become pregnant (fertility window) will change.

If you’re feeling stressed, you may also be less interested in sex.

Stress can also affect your testosterone levels. This can affect your sperm and sexual function.

Stress can have physical, emotional and mental effects. High levels of stress or constant stress is called toxic stress. If your level of stress is very high and constant, your body is making stress hormones almost all the time. This affects how your brain works and can lead to problems with your mental and physical health.

Developing babies exposed to high levels of stress hormones through their mother’s placenta are at higher risk of developing learning disabilities, attention disorders, and behavioural or emotional problems.

Some signs that your stress level is high include:

  • feeling irritable or easily frustrated
  • arguing more with your partner, friends or family
  • using more tobacco, alcohol or drugs to cope

Long-term stress can increase your risk for:

  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • depression
  • high blood pressure

Some ways to cope with stress include:

  • eat regular meals
  • eat a healthy diet and drink enough water
  • take time every day to relax, rest and get enough sleep
  • exercise regularly
  • reach out to family or friends
  • talk to people in your social network

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