A major factor that affects fertility health while trying to conceive (TTC) is stress. Although for most stress may not be the only reason why we aren’t conceiving, it certainly can have a significant impact on our chances of becoming pregnant.
Don’t be surprised, when you tell people you’re having trouble conceiving, if their response is something along the lines of “It will happen when you stop trying.”
There are cases where that is true. Couples may try for months with no success, then decide to take a break, and all of a sudden they’re pregnant. Removing the stress that we put on ourselves, especially the stress of trying to get pregnant, can greatly improve our fertility.
Stress can come from many directions. It can come from work, home, marriage, parents, finances, and more. And when we add the stress of trying to conceive that’s the cherry on top of the already over-iced cake.
Every one of those stressors can have a major impact on our fertility. When we are stressed, we aren’t practicing good self-care.
We typically aren’t eating a balanced diet. We might be eating lots of sugary foods or grabbing lots of meals on the go that aren’t healthy. We don’t get a good night’s sleep because we can’t turn our brains off, as we focus on everything going on in our lives.
We put stress on our marriages because we so badly want to become pregnant. We time our intercourse and take all of the fun and romance out of it.
When we do this, it becomes more like a chore. Then we get that negative pregnancy test at the end of the month, and we pile stress on top of grief and sadness, and the cycle continues over and over again each month.
The bottom line is struggling with a lot of stress while TTC does not lead to success. Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges couples face while dealing with infertility is trying to remove that stress, much of which may be caused by the infertility itself — cruel, isn’t it?
There is some good news though, there are ways to decrease and even eliminate stress from our everyday lives.
1) Try meditation, deep breathing and yoga.
Next time you feel stressed, stop, take a few deep breaths, and notice how quickly you feel relief. Now imagine taking those deep breaths for five to 20 minutes a day, eventually being able to focus on nothing but your breathing.
Can you imagine being that relaxed? With practice it’s possible.
2) Pamper yourself!
Treat yourself to a pedicure, schedule a massage, or plan brunch with the girls.
3) Seek counseling.
Whether with a professional or just a friend, venting is a great form of stress relief.
4) Take a trip!
If finances allow, whether for a week or a day, getting away can be helpful.
5) Take a break.
Although it’s hard, sometimes we just need to take a step back. This is especially true with TTC and fertility treatments — month after month, cycle after cycle, let down after let down.
When this is the case, a good way to get rid of the stress is to just stop and step back. Give your mind, body and soul a break. Your spouse is also more than likely under a tremendous amount of stress at this time too. Don’t forget to consider them as well.
6) Have an attitude of gratitude.
Count your blessings regularly — your house, your job, your health, your spouse, family, friends, your dog, having clean water to drink and food to eat. Always look for the positives! We almost always have something to be grateful for.
Recognizing you are stressed is the key to dealing with it. Take a minute to evaluate your current situation. If you’re unhappy, fatigued, frustrated, or feeling overwhelmed you might be stressed. Some stress is inevitable. Too much stress is harmful.
If you feel like you’re over-stressed, take some steps toward getting yourself healthy again. Practice good self-care regularly.
According to a recent study of 400 women 40 years of age or younger by the University of Louisville, when women felt stressed during their ovulation window, they were 40 percent less likely to conceive that month than months when they were less stressed.
“I hope the results of this study serve as a wake-up call for both physicians and the general public that psychological health and well-being is just as important as other more commonly accepted risk factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and obesity when trying to conceive,” said Dr. Kira Taylor, Ph.D., a researcher of the study.
The outcome of her study, and her conclusions, clearly support the concept that stress is a very serious risk factor, which should be discussed by treatment providers along with other risk factors.
Eating right, getting a good night’s sleep, exercising, and staying stress-free are all important keys to fertility health and all are highly recommended by doctors while attempting to conceive.
If you and your partner have been having trouble trying to get pregnant, some over-the-counter options are also available. The Stork® OTC is one such option. It uses cervical cap insemination to help sperm bypass the vaginal tract and be placed as close as possible to the opening of the cervix.