If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for some time, you’ve probably heard all manner of less-than-helpful cliches, the most common among being: Don’t stress about it. (Oh okay, then). Here at The Fertility and Gynaecology we’re used to patients asking us: Can I still get pregnant if I’m stressed? Does stress affect your chances of getting pregnant and if so, how can I deal with it? The answers aren’t black and white, so read on and we’ll explain.

Does Stress Affect Your Chances Of Getting Pregnant?

There has been a lot of discussion and study within the medical community on this question. Truthfully, nobody can conclusively explain the relationship between stress and infertility because the body of evidence remains indeterminate.

Dr Anu Chawla, Fertility Specialist at The Fertility and Gynaecology Academy says: “Of course, every day women all over the world fall pregnant in the most stressful circumstances imaginable – amidst war, displacement and all sorts of turmoil. But we do know that stress can trigger the release of your body’s principal stress hormone – cortisol. Raised levels of cortisol – especially for prolonged time periods – can have a negative affect on the body in all sorts of ways, creating issues like inflammation, and impacting the gut, immune system and thyroid function. These issues can in turn impact a woman’s reproductive function, affecting ovulation, menstruation and even embryo implantation.”

So, while we don’t want to encourage a stressing-about-stress loop, we do recommend looking for ways to ease your burden a bit, eliminate needless hassles, and look after you – if for no other reason than the fact you have enough on your plate at this time and you deserve it! For handy ways to do this, see our tips below.

Can I Still Get Pregnant If I’m Stressed?

“We fertility doctors are often asked: Can I still get pregnant if I’m stressed? It’s a totally understandable question but also something of a red herring,” says Dr Chawla. “While as we explained above, the stress hormone cortisol can impact systems in the body which in turn can impact reproductive functions such as your menstrual cycle, women get pregnant every day under extreme stress. So no, nobody should be saying to women: you can’t get pregnant if you’re stressed. What is more, there are so many other known important factors to fertility, such as age, being a healthy weight, and whether you have a hormonal imbalance such as PCOS or endometriosis for example.”

So try not to get caught in a stressing-about-stress loop. Instead, focus on the things you can control, such as getting a fertility check to get ahead of any potential issues, eating healthily, practising some good de-stressing techniques, and just generally looking after yourself.

How To Relax While Trying To Get Pregnant

There are many possible ways to reduce stress while trying to conceive and it can often be a case of trial and error to see what works for you. What we do know is that berating yourself for worrying is unlikely to help you relax! But simple, practical steps can help. Read on for our 11 ways to reduce stress while trying to conceive.

11 Ways To Reduce Stress While Trying To Conceive

  1. Lower those caffeine levels – Can’t live without your morning coffee? Many people feel that caffeine helps them to function better but as a stimulant, it could be heightening your anxiety, particularly if you drink a lot of it.
  2. Acupuncture and massage – There are never any assurances with this sort of thing, but complementary therapies such as acupuncture and massage have helped many women relax on their fertility journey, so it could be worth a go.
  3. Work out – We all know how good exercise is for physical health by now, right? For example, a moderate work out routine can do wonders for heart and lung health. But never forget the power of the anti-stress feel good chemicals pumped out after a workout! Yoga addicts say the form is particularly good for calming the nerves and getting a good night’s sleep, though speaking of which, be careful not to do a high intensity work out late at night as it could keep you awake.
  4. Unplug – Found yourself over-scrolling on social media after an already stressful day? In a world experiencing a lot of upheaval, sometimes the newsfeed can seem like one big doom-scroll that can be as addictive as it is stress-inducing. Try coming off socials for a bit or giving yourself a ‘digital sabbath’ (one day a week to unplug) and see how you feel.
  5. Talk things through – You know the old saying: a problem shared is a problem halved. It’s all very well to look on the bright side but sometimes unexpressed frustrations can help to create a sense of background stress and anxiety, which would be decompressed by having a good old vent, either to a friend or even perhaps a counsellor if needs be.
  6. Meditate – If you’ve never tried it, meditation might sound odd or even too good to be true. But neuroscientific research studies have demonstrated a link between regular meditation and superior brain health. What’s more, you don’t have to become a monk to feel the effects – just 5 or 10 minutes daily can make a difference. And if you don’t know your oms from your dhyanas and you’re not sure where to start, there are a ton of different apps and methods to suit varying tastes.
  7. Soak in a bubble bath – One of the simplest, most cost-effective ways to sneak in a sense of relaxation and luxury, a bubble bath with some scrummy salts is an old faithful, so try to find the time.
  8. Axe down the alcohol – Like excessive caffeine intake, end-of-the-day drinking often seems like the perfect in-the-moment coping mechanism. But it affects the central nervous system and is actually an stress-feeder. What’s more, studies have shown that drinking can hamper fertility, so it’s a very good idea to cut it right down or even out altogether, if you’re trying to get pregnant.
  9. Nix that nicotine – Like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant, and research has demonstrated an association between nicotine consumption and increased anxiety. So while in the short-term, it feels like that vape or those cigarettes are helping to calm your stress, they could actually be creating stress in the first place.
  10. Schedule a worry time or write in a worry journal – A certain amount of worry is normal, but when worry bleeds into work and play time it becomes unwieldy, creating more worry when it affects our productivity and focus. One method particularly popular with some practitioners of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is to schedule a ‘worry time’ or keep a ‘worry journal’. That way, intrusive worries can be deferred to a walled-off time or place. Proponents of the practice say the mind is much more accepting of the command ‘don’t worry now’ than ‘don’t worry at all’. Worth a try!
  11. Get a fertility check – Many couples say that when they are trying for a baby it’s the not knowing that’s the worst: Will I get pregnant and if so, when? Is everything okay?

These questions can form a background hum creating stress before we know it. But getting a thorough fertility check puts an end to any nagging questions and saves you that most precious fertility resource of all: Time. Here at The Fertility and Gynaecology Academy our fertility screening is second to none. If there is a problem, we will find it, and explain in plain English what can be done about it. To find out more about how we can help, call The Fertility & Gynaecology Academy now on 020 7224 1880 or email info@fertility-academy.co.uk

Ultimately, stress relief is about finding what works for you. But approaching yourself with an attitude of kindness is sure to help. There’s no greater gift than a baby of your own and it’s normal to feel the pressure when you want something so much.

Been trying for a baby for a while, or nervous about trying a bit later in life? Want to check if everything is okay? A Fertility MOT Check can help you and your partner achieve clarity as to where you are in your journey towards conception. The Fertility and Gynaecology Academy has state of the art screening facilities and the UK’s leading fertility experts.

To find out more about how we can help, call The Fertility & Gynaecology Academy now on 020 7224 1880 or email info@fertility-academy.co.uk