Dealing with Infertility and Stress

Dealing with Infertility and Stress

When a couple decides that they want to have a baby, they typically stop using contraception and wait for nature to take its course. But sometimes conception just doesn’t happen.

Doctors usually advise couples to keep trying to conceive for about a year. Conception doesn’t always happen straight away, and if the woman has been using hormonal treatments, it may take her body some time to get used to the new status quo. At that stage, if conception still hasn’t taken place, they can start looking into the reason why.

Sometimes a diagnosis can be made quite quickly. Issues of infertility are common for both women and men, and multiple factors can contribute to why a couple is struggling to conceive. On other occasions, no clear reason for the difficulty conceiving is identified, which can make it more complicated for the couple and their doctor to decide what to do.

However, whatever the underlying factors for the lack of conception, stress exacerbates an already difficult situation, and can make it even more difficult to conceive. Stress is a health condition in and of itself, because when we are chronically stressed we secrete higher than normal levels of cortisol, which has repercussions for every aspect of our physical self, including reproduction.

Particularly in cases of unexplained fertility, a good first step can be for the couple to eliminate as much stress as possible from their lives. There are lots of proactive steps that they can take, including ensuring that they are both getting a reasonable amount of exercise, and eating a healthy diet (this also helps to ensure that they are as physically well as they can be, which improves their chances of conceiving, too). Beyond these practical measures, if they are stressed at work, by a long commute, or by difficulties in the family, they need to find ways to reduce the impact of this stress on their lives.

Sometimes stress can be reduced or even eliminated by taking a simple step such as changing jobs, organising one’s schedule more carefully, or ensuring that home is always a pleasant, restful place to be. However, for most people it is not that straightforward. Integrating some positive approaches to stress, such as mindfulness meditation or positive thinking, can make a huge difference. Some people will find it useful to join a class or a group, but anyone can integrate some useful techniques to destress to their daily lives.

For some couples, once they have explored all their options, it may be necessary to use IVF in order to conceive. This can certainly be a stressful process. If it is not covered by the National Health Service, it can be expensive, too. The woman also has to undergo a hormone regime to get her eggs ready for fertilisation, and this can take a toll on her emotional and physical well-being. As there is no guarantee of conception with each cycle of egg-harvesting and in-vitro fertilisation, it can be very difficult not to worry. At these times, it is more important than ever to take positive measures to reduce stress to the lowest levels possible, not just for the sake of general well-being, but also to optimise the chances of conception.


For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.