How Your Mood Affects Getting Pregnant

Research studies since the 1980s have documented the connection between stress and infertility. Depression has also been shown to make conception harder. What we now know is that stress brought on by anxiety and/or depression can alter the normal functioning of the body’s immune system, making women more vulnerable to colds and other viruses during emotionally stressful periods, and adversely affecting a woman’s ability to conceive.

Reproduction is one of the most delicately balanced biological systems in a woman’s body, as well as one of the most complicated. Psychological stress can affect the ability to conceive in many different ways. Stress can inhibit or over-stimulate the hypothalamus area of the brain which regulates hormonal levels, and affects pituitary and adrenal output. The pituitary gland regulates both how much of a hormone is made and how much is released in the body, which affects the hormonal balances necessary for ovulation, fertilization, tubal functioning and successful implantation of a fertilized egg.

Coping with infertility often leads to depression. The depression often makes conception even more unlikely, setting the stage for a vicious cycle of frustration and depression. Depressed women are twice as likely to remain infertile. Getting back into a healthy state of mind and mood will greatly increase your chances of conceiving.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Relaxation

Consider engaging in a daily routine of meditation, yoga, exercise, reading, or other activity that calms the mind. Learn how to budget your time to include “down time” or quiet time. Make sure that your sex life is not always scheduled around ovulation; make time to have “fun” sex too!

  • Expressing Feelings

Releasing feelings of frustration is essential for affective deep relaxation. Visualization can be very effective. Visualize your entire body as HEALTHY and ready to conceive. Acknowledge your anger, frustration, grief, disappointment, and/or fear. Try to visualize it leaving your body. Try sharing your frustrations with a supportive and understanding friend. Allow yourself to cry when you feel like it and allow yourself to verbalize your anger or frustration when you feel that way. Listen to yourself expressing these feelings and be sure that they sound consistent with the way you experience the emotions.

  • Cognitive Reframing

Express your feelings in a diary or journal. Once written down it’s easier to not think about your frustrations/disappointments so much because you know they are permanently recorded somewhere. Try to express your feelings positively, i.e. I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO BECOMING PREGNANT or I CAN WAIT TO EXPERIENCE THE JOYS OF MOTHERHOOD instead of,” I’m tired of waiting.”  I CAN BE PATIENT BECAUSE BECOMING PREGNANT IS WORTH IT instead of, “I can’t take it anymore”.

  • Support Groups

Dealing with the frustrations of infertility alone is especially difficult. Sharing your experiences with others in a similar situation is often very helpful. Giving and receiving support in a group setting has been shown to help many people feel less alone and more hopeful, including men and women struggling with infertility. RESOLVE is a national support group for women who want to talk about their issues with infertility. Look for a group in your area.

Published by

Dr. Gnap

Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago.  Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance.  He started the Inner Control program because so many patients asked, “what more can be done along with traditional treatment methods?”

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