Stress and infertility seemingly go hand-in-hand with one another. When trying to get pregnant, there are so many factors that are out of your control. From medical expenses to the emotional isolation and turmoil, it can all feel very overwhelming. It’s no wonder why women experience heightened feelings of stress and anxiety when you’re trying to conceive or have a baby without luck.
As a Certified Fertility Coach, I’ve personally met hundreds of men and women who struggle with getting pregnant. Many of them have successfully become pregnant after learning how to manage their feelings of stress and anxiety.
My hope with this resource is that you better understand the relationship between stress and infertility and have the tools, support, and guidance to help you manage your stress and be more likely to conceive naturally, through IVF, or help through your journey of donor conception.
My Experience with Stress and Infertility
It’s very common to feel stressed from infertility or trying to start your family. I was 40 when I first started seriously trying to get pregnant. I underwent multiple months of struggle and I had multiple miscarriages.
Between starting at a higher-risk age, surgery, IUI and the miscarriages, I remember how overwhelming everything felt. I felt like I tried my hand at everything. The clock was ticking, expenses were out the roof, and there was nothing more I felt I could do to increase my chances anymore.
It was painful, isolating, and anecdotally, I knew that stress wasn’t helping my cause.
The Relationship Between Your Mental State Matters and Infertility
It’s only been in recent years that studies have shown how much your mental state matters when it comes to trying to conceive.
It’s reported that 1 in 8 couples (12% of married women) experience trouble getting pregnant. Many of those women who experience infertility report higher levels of stress and anxiety. It’s no surprise, but studies have confirmed that stress can also affect the ability to conceive.
A recent study showed that women with high levels of alpha-amylase—an enzyme that correlates with stress—experience a longer waiting time trying to get pregnant. Another study showed that higher levels of cortisol are correlated to lower pregnancy rates.
It’s a vicious cycle. On one hand, infertility is extremely stressful. How is one expected to not feel stressed? On the other hand, I know most women who want to get pregnant will do anything they can for higher chances of getting pregnant.
All this to say, I empathize with you if you’re currently undergoing this process. So how are you expected to break the cycle? How are you supposed to have higher chances of conception when stress feels inevitable?
How to Keep Your Calm on Your Journey to Parenthood
I’m sure you’re deeply familiar that stress and anxiety doesn’t magically go away when you’re trying for a baby, whether that is via surrogacy or on your own.
One thing I’ve learned with the men and women I see is that no matter how often we talk about stress and anxiety, it never suddenly disappears. Some days, it’s more manageable. It lingers in the background. Other days, the anxiety is all-consuming, and they struggle to even get out of bed.
Studies in 2018 have shown that “psychological interventions in lowering psychological distress” are “…associated with significant increases in pregnancy rates.” (Domar, Rooney, 2018)
A common theme I talk about with clients is helping them manage their emotions. We have to help you find tools to help you make stress feel more manageable, so you can keep a positive mental state. Wherever you are in the process, below are ways I suggest to help keep your calm and feel less stressed while trying to get pregnant.
One of the best things you can do to manage your emotions when going through the process is finding people who understand what you’re going through. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to close friends, family, or even your partner about all the stresses that come with TTC or navigating having a baby in other ways, a dedicated community is a great way to share your struggles.
Make a point to meet on a regular basis. Whether it’s weekly or monthly, consistent check-ins can give you a place to share your emotions, make friends, and give you something to look forward to. If you’re looking for a place to start, feel free to join this group for people who are trying to conceive.
Exercise is proven to decrease levels of stress. Just 30 minutes of movement can reduce cortisol and increase blood flow to important reproductive organs.
Find ways that you like to move. Try yoga, long walks, Pilates, or other low-impact activities to get your blood moving. Here are my 5 top tips for exercise while trying to conceive.
One of the reasons why I started my practice and serve men and women who are trying to have a child is because miscarriage, pregnancy loss, and infertility are a different kind of grief. It can be very traumatic, and there is only so much time you get to have with the doctors in their offices.
A fertility coach’s job is to listen to you, support you, and be your go-to person when you need someone to talk to. You can usually book a free consultation with a coach before you commit to getting started, so you can figure out if fertility coaching might be the right fit for you.
There are so many benefits to journaling, including releasing your emotions, tracking your emotional cycle, and processing previous events. It’s also a great way to shift you into a more positive and hopeful mindset. Here’s how to use journaling for infertility.
I wish there was a magical formula that could make infertility anxiety go away, but the truth is that this process isn’t easy. It is not fun, but I am here to tell you that it is possible to change your day-to-day outlook on the whole process. You will still have hard days, but the goal is to have more good days than bad.
If you need support on your journey, please find the help you need. Find me at ElizabethKing.com for free resources and a free consultation to see if 1:1 coaching feels good for you. If you’re on the other side of this, click here to learn more about becoming a fertility coach in my Fertility Coach Academy.
Elizabeth King is a Certified Fertility Health Coach, Master Certified ICF Life Coach, Birth & Bereavement Doula and New Parent Educator. Her mission is to help people of all backgrounds conceive a healthy baby and carry to term. After having 3 children of her own after the age of 40, Elizabeth believes taking a more holistic approach is the lynchpin to success when attempting to conceive. Now she has helped hundreds of women achieve their dreams of conception and parenthood in 20+ countries around the world. She supports clients through natural fertility, infertility, IVF, miscarriage loss, early pregnancy PTSD, and new parent support. With over 20k followers on Instagram, Elizabeth is the host of Podcast, Pretty Little Tribe. For her expertise, she has been featured on ABC, in Parade Magazine, and Romper and on podcasts, The Transition Channel, The Bachelor to the Burbs and she is a contributor to the Best- Selling book Naturally Conceived.