Stress and your health
Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone expresses stress from time to time.
Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a new diagnosis, war, or the death of a loved one can trigger stress. For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health. It can help you cope with potentially serious situations.
Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond.
In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. But when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health.
There are two main types of stress:
- Acute stress: This is short-term stress that goes away quickly. You feel it when you slam on the brakes, have a fight with your partner, or ski down a steep slope. It helps you manage dangerous situations. It also occurs when you do something new or exciting. All people have acute stress at one time or another.
- Chronic stress: This is stress that lasts for a longer period of time. You may have chronic stress if you have money problems, an unhappy marriage, or trouble at work. Any type of stress that goes on for weeks or months is chronic stress. You can become so used to chronic stress that you don't realize it is a problem. If you don't find ways to manage stress, it may lead to health problems.
Stress effects on the body
When a person has long-term (chronic) stress, continued activation of the stress response causes wear and tear on the body. Physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms develop.
Physical symptoms of stress include:
- Aches and pains.
- Chest pain or a feeling like your heart is racing.
- Exhaustion or trouble sleeping.
- Headaches, dizziness or shaking.
- High blood pressure.
- Muscle tension or jaw clenching.
- Stomach or digestive problems.
- Trouble having sex.
- Weak immune system.
Stress can lead to emotional and mental symptoms like:
- Anxiety or irritability.
- Panic attacks.
Often, people with chronic stress try to manage it with unhealthy behaviors, including:
- Drinking too much or too often.
- Overeating or developing an eating disorder.
- Participating compulsively in sex, shopping or internet browsing.
- Using drugs.
Stress Affects All Systems of the Body Including the Cardiovascular and Reproductive Systems.
- cardiovascular: The heart and blood vessels comprise the two elements of the cardiovascular system that work together in providing nourishment and oxygen to the organs of the body. The activity of these two elements is also coordinated in the body's response to stress. Acute stress-stress that is momentary or short term such as meeting deadlines, being stuck in traffic or suddenly slamming on the brakes to avoid an accident causes an increase in heart rate and stronger contractions of the heart muscle, with the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol acting as messengers for these effects.
- Male reproductive system: The male reproductive system is influenced by the nervous system. The parasympathetic part of the nervous system causes relaxation whereas the sympathetic part causes arousal. In the male anatomy, the autonomic nervous system, also known as the fight or flight response, produces testosterone and activates the sympathetic nervous system which creates arousal.
These are the effect of stress in male reproductive system:
Sexual desire: Chronic stress, ongoing stress over an extended period of time, can affect testosterone production resulting in a decline in sex drive or libido, and can even cause erectile dysfunction or impotence
Reproduction: Chronic stress can also negatively impact sperm production and maturation, causing difficulties in couples who are trying to conceive. Researchers have found that men who experienced two or more stressful life events in the past year had a lower percentage of sperm motility (ability to swim) and a lower percentage of sperm of normal morphology (size and shape), compared with men who did not experience any stressful life events.
Diseases of the reproductive system: When stress affects the immune system, the body can become vulnerable to infection. In the male anatomy, infections to the testes, prostate gland, and urethra, can affect normal male reproductive functioning.
These are the effect of stress in female reproductive system:
Menstruation: Stress may affect menstruation among adolescent girls and women in several ways. For example, high levels of stress may be associated with absent or irregular menstrual cycles, more painful periods, and changes in the length of cycles.
Sexual desire: Women juggle personal, family, professional, financial, and a broad range of other demands across their life span. Stress, distraction, fatigue, etc., may reduce sexual desire especially when women are simultaneously caring for young children or other ill family members, coping with chronic medical problems, feeling depressed, experiencing relationship difficulties or abuse, dealing with work problems, etc.
Pregnancy: Stress can have significant impact on a woman’s reproductive plans. Stress can negatively impact a woman’s ability to conceive, the health of her pregnancy, and her postpartum adjustment. Depression is the leading complication of pregnancy and postpartum adjustment. Excess stress increases the likelihood of developing depression and anxiety during this time. Maternal stress can negatively impact fetal and ongoing childhood development and disrupt bonding with the baby in the weeks and months following delivery.
Premenstrual syndrome: Stress may make premenstrual symptoms worse or more difficult to cope with and premenses symptoms may be stressful for many women. These symptoms include cramping, fluid retention and bloating, negative mood (feeling irritable and “blue”) and mood swings.
Menopause: As menopause approaches, hormone levels fluctuate rapidly. These changes are associated with anxiety, mood swings, and feelings of distress. Thus menopause can be a stressor in and of itself. Some of the physical changes associated with menopause, especially hot flashes, can be difficult to cope with. Furthermore, emotional distress may cause the physical symptoms to be worse. For example, women who are more anxious may experience an increased number of hot flashes and/or more severe or intense hot flashes.
Diseases of the reproductive system: When stress is high, there is increased chance of exacerbation of symptoms of reproductive disease states, such as herpes simplex virus or polycystic ovarian syndrome. The diagnosis and treatment of reproductive cancers can cause significant stress, which warrants additional attention and support.
How long does stress last?
Stress can be a momentary issue or a drawn out issue, contingent upon what changes in your day to day existence. Routinely utilizing pressure the executives methods can assist you with staying away from physical, passionate and social manifestations of stress.
© 2021 Kishan