Anxiety is never fun, but it’s especially hard to handle when trying to conceive seems to be the source of it all. The emotional ups and downs of trying for a baby pose a challenge for many women and their families.
While it’s still unclear whether or not worry, stress and/or anxiety do affect conception rates, there are numerous explanations for how the body might react in this situation. It is well known that the increase in cortisol levels triggered by stress can negatively affect many different aspects of health. The numerous physiological manifestations of stress include an impact on the gut microbiota (the balance of natural bacteria in the gut), thyroid and immune function and hormones including increased cortisol levels, as well as elevated inflammation, all of which have the potential to impact reproductive function, including implantation of an embryo into the womb.
The following symptoms may give you an indication that anxiety might be getting in the way of your TTC effort.
Feeling overwhelmed when you see other people getting pregnant. • Blaming yourself or feeling low self-esteem. • Relationship problems. • Sexual dysfunction, loss of interest in sex. • Isolating yourself from friends or family. • Excessive worrying or ruminating thoughts. •Getting overly caught up in the details of trying to conceive. • Neglecting your own health because your body isn’t ‘cooperating’. • Having anxiety or panic attacks.
Top tips for battling fertility anxiety
Learn: Educate yourself about the normal responses to infertility. Talk to other people going through infertility. Understand your medical condition and ask about treatment options.
Get a fertility check: Many couples say that when they are trying for a baby it’s the not knowing that’s the worst: Will I get pregnant and if so, when? Is everything okay?
Reduce your caffeine: It is a stimulant and can contribute to anxiety, but we might be so used to that morning coffee that we don’t realise how much of a stimulant it really is. If the thought of withdrawal is daunting, cut back slowly.
Exercise: The benefits of moderate exercise on health including the cardiovascular and circulation system are well-known, but let’s not forget those anti-stress endorphins a workout releases. Just be careful not to do a high intensity work out late at night as it could keep you awake.
Meditate: neuroscientific studies have shown regular meditation to be associated with better brain health. Just 5 or 10 minutes daily can make a difference. And if you’re not sure where to start, there are a ton of different apps and methods to suit varying tastes.
Focus on other projects: There are probably at least a handful of things that you could put your attention towards. Working on these things might help distract you from the stresses of TTC. continue with plans, career promotions, and make time to do more things that you like.
Reach out to your support system: Talking to your partner, family, or trusted friends about your experiences can ease some of the burden off of your shoulders, and don’t make you feel less like you’re going through these things alone. Understand that you can talk about your situation without going into details and tell others how they can support you.
Ultimately, stress relief is about finding what works for you. But approaching yourself with an attitude of kindness is sure to help. If you are trying for a baby for a while, and feeling nervous about that, schedule your consultation with one of our doctor and we will explain what can be done about it.