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Conceiving a Conception Stress–Management Plan

Congratulations on taking the next step in your life—making the big decision to grow your family!

While most people have a general idea on how getting pregnant is done, what is not often talked about is how stressful the process of conception can be.

Why Getting Pregnant Can Be Stressful

Trying to get pregnant can prove to be a trying time for a lot of people. One in six couples in North America is afflicted with fertility challenges (i.e., diagnosed with infertility or encountering problems getting pregnant and/or staying pregnant).[1] It can be difficult to not worry during the two-week wait or to feel optimistic when seeing negative pregnancy test results one month after another. To add to this, there is also a growing awareness that stress itself can affect a person’s likelihood of getting pregnant or carrying their pregnancy to full-term.[2], [3], [4] The reality is that fertility challenges can leave a lot of people not only physically, but also emotionally, mentally, and even financially stressed.

What to Do When the Growing Gets Tough

Growing your family requires that you have a plan. Do remember that it is just as important to have realistic expectations and sustainable strategies that nurture your wellbeing. Consider the following suggestions.

Understand What the Problem Is

It takes a village to raise a child; it takes a village to help make one, too. Reach out to people who can give you an objective perspective on what may be holding you back from pregnancy success. If you are in an area where you can access care from fertility specialists or practitioners, it may help to consult with them. Getting insight on what factors may be playing a role in your fertility challenges, and available treatment options can help you to make informed decisions and feel more in control.[5], [6]

Read Your Body

By definition, your fertility is your body’s ability to conceive; this inherent ability is a reflection of so many complex processes and factors that affect your health. Besides tracking your periods and changes in your menstrual cycle, other measurable or observable markers of fertility worth noting include using ovulation predictor kits, cervical mucus, basal body temperature, and sexual desire or libido.[7] Becoming familiar not only with fertility markers but also with how your body generally feels can provide you and your health-care practitioner clues on what may be affecting your reproductive health. For example, if you are feeling inexplicably exhausted and experiencing frequent light-headedness and cravings in addition to having fertility challenges, then it may be good to get lab-testing done to rule out thyroid disorders, blood-sugar regulation issues, metabolic issues, etc. Reading your body by being mindful of signs and symptoms may help you take appropriate measures to optimize pregnancy success.

Focus on Being Nourished

The time-sensitive nature of fertility challenges can motivate people to make dramatic changes in their diet and lifestyle. For example, people may be told to lose weight in order to be eligible for assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). Some people may also be advised to stop tobacco, alcohol, or cannabis use. Others may be told to be on specific, potentially restrictive diets. It is commendable to see people commit extraordinary efforts to overhaul major elements of their lives. These rapid changes can cause significant shifts in their hormone health and physiology, but not always in a sustainable and favourable way that improves the factors needed in achieving pregnancy.[8], [9], [10]

What may be more helpful for people experiencing fertility challenges is focusing on being physically, emotionally, and mentally nourished. You may also enjoy exploring exercise, yoga, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, individual and group therapy, and mindfulness approaches. Understanding and addressing your unique health roadblocks by incorporating consistent movement, eating balanced nutrient-dense meals, and having meaningful ways to manage life stress can be more streamlined and effective in helping you become pregnant.

Be Cautiously Optimistic

The prior suggestions are meant to pave the way so you can be informed of your options. Being informed allows you to hope for the best outcomes, but at the same time, have realistic expectations on what path is best for your needs. Have an open line of communication with people who know your fertility background (e.g., your doctors and specialists), select friends, and family members. Communicating your concerns can also allow you to have discussions about your plans, whatever the outcome may be.

Savour Time for Yourself

It is obvious by now that the path to parenthood can be consuming and understandably stressful. Don’t be afraid to take breaks trying to get pregnant when you are recovering from illness; need to process new health information; balance work, life, and other responsibilities; are overwhelmed; or simply want to. Honour how you feel, connect and confide with others, and always give yourself grace.

Dr. Kim Abog, ND

Dr. Kim Abog is a registered naturopathic doctor and doula based in Toronto, Ontario. She has a special interest in fertility and reproductive health. She helps people by facilitating health-management plans with them, connecting them to evidence-informed integrative health solutions, and helping them thrive.



[1]       Public Health Agency of Canada. “Fertility.” · · Updated 2019-⁠05-⁠28.

[2]       Park, J., J.B. Stanford, C.A. Porucznik, K. Christensen, and K.C. Schliep. “Daily perceived stress and time to pregnancy: A prospective cohort study of women trying to conceive.” Psychoneuroendocrinology, Vol. 110 (2019): 104446.

[3]       Haimovici, F., J.L. Anderson, G.W. Bates, C. Racowsky, E.S. Ginsburg, D. Simovici, and R.N. Fichorova. “Stress, anxiety, and depression of both partners in infertile couples are associated with cytokine levels and adverse IVF outcome.” American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, Vol. 79, No. 4 (2018): e12832.

[4]       Ebbesen, S.M.S., R. Zachariae, M.Y. Mehlsen, D. Thomsen, A. Højgaard, L. Ottosen, T. Petersen, and H.J. Ingerslev. “Stressful life events are associated with a poor in-vitro fertilization (IVF) outcome: A prospective study.” Human Reproduction, Vol. 24, No. 9 (2009): 2173–2182.

[5]       Nekuei, N., M.H. Nasr Esfahani, and A. Kazemi. “Preconception counseling in couples undergoing fertility treatment.” International Journal of Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 6, No. 2 (2012): 79–86.

[6]       Vause, T.D.R., L. Jones, M. Evans, V. Wilke, and A. Leader. “Pre-conception health awareness in infertility patients.” Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, Vol. 31, No. 8 (2009): 717–720.

[7]       Owen, M. “Physiological signs of ovulation and fertility readily observable by women.” The Linacre Quarterly, Vol. 80, No. 1 (2013): 17–23.

[8]       Karila, T.A.M., P. Sarkkinen, M. Marttinen, T. Seppälä, A. Mero, and K. Tallroth. “Rapid weight loss decreases serum testosterone.” International Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 29, No. 11 (2008): 872–877.

[9]       Mohammad, T., N. Farzad, G. Mohammad Tagie, and K. Ranjbar. “The impact of rapid weight loss on the leptin, adiponectin levels, and insulinresistance among adult free style wrestlers.” The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Vol. 55, No. 7–8 (2015): 805–812.

[10]     Meczekalski, B., K. Katulski, A. Czyzyk, A. Podfigurna-⁠Stopa, and M. Maciejewska-⁠Jeske. “Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea and its influence on women’s health.” Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, Vol. 37, No. 11 (2014): 1049–1056.