4 Ways to Ease Family Planning Stress

Having fertility issues while trying to conceive? Read on for tips to help you stay on track.

a man and woman happily look at the result of a home pregnancy test

Updated on October 10, 2023

If you’re trying to conceive, you may have heard the advice, “Just relax and you’ll get pregnant.” And it seems like many people have heard a story about someone getting pregnant as soon as they stopped feeling stressed about it.

Not only can this advice feel frustrating and potentially demoralizing, but studies do not necessarily back it up. While difficulty getting pregnant may increase stress levels, research does has not confirmed a link between stress and fertility. 

A study published in the journal Human Fertility (Cambridge) in 2022, looked at the results of past studies that examined the relationship between emotions and outcomes of assisted reproduction. While researchers found a potential link between male anxiety and decreased sperm motility, they found no significant relationship between stress before treatment in women and pregnancy or live birth.

Here are four ways to cope if you are having difficulty trying to conceive.

Focus on positive self-talk

Think about how you talk to yourself about your fertility. Are you encouraging and supportive, or do you say things to yourself you wouldn’t hope to hear from a friend or relative?

Perhaps you tell yourself, “I’ll never get pregnant,” or “My body is so stupid for letting me down,” or even “I don’t deserve to be a parent.” Statements like these can hurt your motivation and self-esteem. By finding a way to quiet the negative self-talk and switch to positive statements, you could find that:

  • You feel more like your own best friend, supporting yourself along the way.
  • You feel much more motivated to take active steps to boost your fertility.
  • You feel more empowered to deal with setbacks and negative comments from others.

Clear out overwhelming feelings

Have you experienced anxiety, stress, anger, sadness, or fear during your fertility journey? Dealing with challenges like other people’s pregnancy announcements or questions about when you are starting a family can feel like an emotional roller coaster.

Self-imposed or external pressure can have an emotional impact. A 2022 review of studies on this topic found depression is common during fertility treatment, and it may be related to a range of factors such as fertility treatment itself as well as underlying medical conditions that may cause fertility issues. The review was published in the journal Menopause.

Negative emotions can accumulate and leave you feeling overwhelmed. Working to ease negative emotions may help you:

  • Think more clearly about your choices
  • Realize that you may have many options, from medical treatment to boost fertility to other ways of sharing your life with a child, such as adoption or mentoring 
  • The ability to make the best personal decision for yourself

Recognize underlying fears or worries

It’s natural to have concerns about pregnancy and childbirth. Perhaps you wonder what kind of parent you will be. Or maybe you have concerns about how your relationship, career, or body will change if you start a family. These concerns are worth exploring because they could present themselves as behaviors that undermine your attempts at becoming pregnant, such as missing your fertile window for intercourse.

Becoming more aware of your fears or worries about pregnancy, birth, and parenthood, may help you:

  • Positively focus on your goal of getting pregnant.
  • Be more ready to make decisions and have tests or treatments.
  • Feel like your body and mind are in tune and focused on achieving pregnancy.

Prepare your mind and body

Being healthy can increase your chances of getting pregnant, reduce the likelihood of complications, and help support a healthy pregnancy.

Some things you can do to create a healthy start are:

  • Get regular checkups with a healthcare provider (HCP)
  • Take a folic acid supplement before conception (women of childbearing age should get 400 mcg each day)
  • Reach a weight that’s healthy for you
  • Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity each week and perform strength training twice weekly, according to CDC guidelines
  • Not smoke, use illegal substances, or drink alcohol excessively; if you need help with addiction or substance use, seek the advice of an HCP  
  • Focus on eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with moderate amounts of low-fat dairy and lean protein
  • Seek emotional support from family, friends, or a mental health professional.

Although everyone has different goals for starting a family and everyone has different visions of what an ideal family might look like, it can help to talk with other people. Research published in the journal Health Psychology Review in 2022 suggests that participating in a group intervention with other people who are experiencing fertility issues can decrease depression and anxiety, and may be linked to improved pregnancy rates.

Whether you decide to continue trying to conceive or choose alternative ways of having a family, you have many options for reaching your family goals.

Article sources open article sources

Peaston G, Subramanian V, Brunckhorst O, et al. The impact of emotional health on assisted reproductive technology outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Hum Fertil (Camb). 2022 Jul;25(3):410-421.
Burgio S, Polizzi C, Buzzaccarini G, et al. Psychological variables in medically assisted reproduction: a systematic review. Prz Menopauzalny. 2022 Mar;21(1):47-63.
Warne E, Oxlad M, Best T. Evaluating group psychological interventions for mental health in women with infertility undertaking fertility treatment: A systematic review and meta-Analysis. Health Psychol Rev. 2022 Apr 11:1-25.
Nutrition Before Pregnancy. University of Rochester Medical Center. Accessed March 20, 2023.
Getting ready for Pregnancy: Preconception health. March of Dimes. Last reviewed September 2020.
CDC. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd edition. Accessed March 20, 2023.

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