Patient Factsheet teaser

Stress and infertility

Revised 2023


Stress-and-Infertility2.gifIt is not clear how stress impacts fertility. It is not known whether high levels of stress can prevent pregnancy or affect a woman’s chance of conceiving. We do know that reducing stress provides a better quality of life during times of intense personal challenge.  

What is stress?  

Stress is often defined as an event that a person sees/ feels is threatening. In order to protect itself, the body responds with a “fight or flight” response.  

How can stress impact a fertility patient? 

Sometimes, infertility patients respond to the stress of being unable to conceive by aggressively pursuing treatment and procedures. Other patients withdraw and isolate themselves from family, friends, and community. Neither of these extremes is ideal for patients who seek to treat their infertility and build a family.  

How can I reduce my stress?  

Having less stress in your life while pursuing fertility treatment may not, in and of itself, result in a pregnancy. However, developing better coping strategies to manage stress related to an infertility diagnosis and treatment can help you feel more in control and improve your overall well-being.   

It has been shown that stress does interfere with making rational and well-thought-out decisions. Reducing stress can allow patients to research, explore, and consider all the options available with a clearer mindset. By reducing stress, the pros and cons of one treatment course over another can be more effectively weighed and considered.

Reduced stress is good for your health. While no one expects patients to approach fertility treatment stress-free, finding ways to minimize stress while pursuing treatment can help. It is helpful for patients to look for ways to reduce the burden of infertility treatments and medical protocols.  

There are many stress-reducing techniques; some of the more popular methods recommended to fertility patients are:  

  • Acupuncture  
  • Aerobic exercise (may be reduced during treatment)  
  • Collaboration with experts in stress reduction  
  • Guided imagery  
  • Journaling  
  • Listening to music  
  • Massage therapy  
  • Meditation  
  • Mind-body groups  
  • Mindfulness  
  • Progressive muscle relaxation  
  • Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy  
  • Self-help books  
  • Support/educational groups  
  • Visualization  
  • Walking/hiking  
  • Yoga  


How can I help my friend/loved one?  

It’s normal for friends and loved ones to want to help. However, telling patients to be less stressed can make them feel more responsible for “causing” their own infertility and feel blamed. Telling someone to relax can cause greater stress too. Rather, focus on asking how couples/friends are doing and listen for ways you can help enhance their quality of life and give them back some sense of control. For many struggling with infertility, just having friends/loved ones available for listening is greatly appreciated. 

The goal of stress reduction is to minimize, not eliminate stress, by finding the technique that serves the patient’s needs the best.

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Resources For You

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) is committed to providing patients with the highest quality information about reproductive care.

Stress

Podcast Icon

SART Fertility Experts - Wellness and Fertility: Diet, Sleep and Exercise

Drs. Timothy Hickman and Rashmi Kudesia discuss the links between lifestyle and fertility. Listen to the Episode
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Infertility Counseling and Support: When and Where to Find It

Infertility is a medical condition that touches all aspects of your life. View the fact sheet
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SART Fertility Experts - IVF: Cycles of Hope and Heartbreak

Does stress cause infertility or is it the other way round?  Listen to the Episode
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Stress and Infertility

Medical procedures, cost, outcome uncertainty, and unwanted or unhelpful advice from friends and family are stressors associated with infertility treatment. Watch Video
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Surviving the Roller Coaster Emotions of Infertility Treatment

The experience of infertility is a rollercoaster of hope and disappointment. Treatment presents an opportunity for hope as well as a new set of challenges. Watch Video
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Stress and Infertility Infographics

ASRM has prepared infographics to illustrate the subject of Stress and Infertility better. View the infographics

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