Can’t Get Pregnant? How Stress May Be Causing Your Infertility

It's true—worrying and obsessing about your inability to get pregnant can make it that much harder.

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Stay active. Continuing activities you enjoy is critical, says Woodward; otherwise the pregnancy project becomes the sole focus. Take pictures, plan special meals—whatever your passion, indulge it. Doing something enjoyable also boosts serotonin, a mood-enhancing brain chemical. That's an added bonus.

Work on relaxation. One easy way, Gaudet suggests, is to spend time once or twice a day coaxing the body into a state of deep relaxation. Take five minutes or so to close your eyes and transport yourself to a far-off destination, a mini-mental vacation. Allow yourself to experience all the senses of your surroundings, says Gaudet, and your body will respond as if you are actually there. The benefits of the "relaxation response" include a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure. If a specific kind of technique is preferred, there's no shortage of choices. Meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation are just a few.

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Exercise. Walking, swimming, yoga, or other moderate exercise may take the edge off stress, and it has additional advantages. Overweight women who trim pounds through physical activity benefit, for example; extra body fat produces excess estrogen, which interferes with ovulation. Higher-energy workouts like running or jogging stimulate the release of feel-good endorphins. Berga warns that too much exercise for women who are already stressed, however, can make matters worse, since exertion triggers the release of cortisol. Relying exclusively on exercise to relieve stress, moreover, won't do anything about what is causing it—a hostile boss, for example.

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Get individual counseling or group support. A woman struggling to get pregnant needs someone who can empathize, says Woodward. Counseling can be an outlet for feelings of confusion, sadness, and frustration. Group support, says Woodward, is particularly helpful for women who feel isolated as a result of infertility. Resolve.org, a website of the National Infertility Association, has links to local support groups across the nation.