5 Essential Ways To Reduce Stress While Trying To Conceive

Stress can impact fertility, says Dr Gill Lockwood.
Displeased couple arguing about problems in their relationship during morning time in a bed. Copy space.
skynesher via Getty Images
Displeased couple arguing about problems in their relationship during morning time in a bed. Copy space.

Experiencing infertility can have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing. It can be a difficult journey for couples trying to conceive, and when stress is added it might make it feel impossible.

Stress itself is a natural reaction in the body which occurs when you feel threatened or under pressure.

It can sometimes be described as the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. This can be caused by life changes, problems with work, family or relationships.

When it comes to infertility, if you are struggling it can make you feel like you have no control, which itself can cause increased levels of stress and anxiety.

Can stress impact fertility?

Dr Gill Lockwood at Fertility Family says stress can greatly impact both men and women when trying to conceive.

For women, high levels of stress can impact the pituitary gland, which releases two key hormones in women – follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) – and luteinising hormone (LH). Excess stress can disrupt the production of these hormones, stopping the egg from being released.

“Additionally, chronic stress can lead to irregularities in the production of oestrogen and progesterone, which are key hormones for reproductive health. These imbalances can further impact fertility,” she adds.

In terms of male fertility, stress can have an impact as high levels of cortisol can impair the production of testosterone, which is essential for sperm production.

Dr Lockwood explains stress is also a prevalent cause of erectile dysfunction and can also cause lower libido in both men and women. This can then have a greater impact on a couple’s sex life, making them less likely to have sex and therefore conceive.

How can I reduce stress when trying to conceive?

It can be difficult to control the feelings of stress, and though you can’t completely avoid it, there are steps to mitigate its effects.

There are a number of things you can do to alleviate stress.

1. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Incorporating mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga into daily routines can help alleviate stress and promote relaxation, say Dr Lockwood.

“This will not only reduce levels of stress hormones but also improve overall well-being and help you think more positively about conceiving,” she said.

2. Exercise

Dr Lockwood advises on regular exercise has been proven to release endorphins, reducing stress and anxiety. It can also help to regulate sleep, which in turn keeps stress managed.

3. Effective Communication and Support

Open and honest communication with partners, friends, or healthcare professionals can provide invaluable emotional support during your fertility journey.

She said: “Sharing concerns, fears, and aspirations can relieve feelings of isolation and create a sense of connection and understanding.”

4. Prioritising Self-Care

Amidst the pressures of trying to conceive, it’s essential to prioritise self-care and engage in activities that bring joy and fulfilment.

Whether it’s indulging in a hobby, spending quality time with loved ones, or simply taking moments for yourself, self-care nurtures emotional well-being and resilience in the face of stress.

5. Seeking Professional Guidance

Seeking guidance from fertility specialists or mental health professionals if you’re struggling can be a huge help. Counselling, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), or coping techniques from your doctor can help you feel equipped to deal with stress and build resilience.

Reducing stress can be challenging, but it is an important factor to consider when you are trying to conceive.

If you are concerned about infertility, make sure to check out the NHS website for more information.

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email help@themix.org.uk
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.