Stress and fertility: Tips for a more relaxed conception

Written by: Dr Anu Chawla
Edited by: Kate Forristal

In her latest online article, Dr Anu Chawla acknowledges the ongoing debate surrounding the connection between stress and infertility. Scientific research has yet to establish a direct link between the two, leaving the evidence inconclusive.


Can stress impact fertility?

Stress can trigger the release of cortisol, the primary stress hormone, which, when elevated for prolonged periods, can negatively affect various bodily functions, such as inflammation, gut health, and immune and thyroid function. These impacts can potentially influence a woman's reproductive system, including her menstrual cycle and embryo implantation. While we urge you not to fret over worrying itself, it's advisable to reduce unnecessary stressors in your life and prioritise self-care. This approach not only makes your everyday life more manageable while trying to conceive but is also a well-deserved act of self-compassion.


Managing fertility anxiety during assisted conception

If you are undergoing fertility treatments, it's crucial to incorporate relaxation techniques into your routine. The assisted conception process can be overwhelming, adding extra tasks to your already busy schedule. Additionally, the hormonal treatments involved can elevate stress levels and induce mood swings. Although many IVF parents emphasise that the process's stress fades in comparison to the joy of holding their own baby, it's essential to prioritise self-care throughout the journey.


Recognising anxiety

In high-stress environments or fast-paced industries, many of us have become so accustomed to stress that we may not even recognise it. Look out for these common signs of anxiety:

  • An increased heart rate
  • Shallow breathing
  • Digestive problems
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive overthinking
  • Procrastination


10 strategies to reduce stress while trying to conceive

Reducing stress levels and fertility anxiety involves experimenting with various techniques, as what works may differ from person to person. Here are ten approaches to consider:

  1. Opt for soothing chamomile tea as a caffeine-free alternative to post-work wine. Reducing alcohol consumption is advisable when trying to conceive.
  2. Embrace bubble baths with relaxation-enhancing ingredients, as they offer a quick, cost-effective, and easily accessible way to indulge in 'me-time.'
  3. Engage in regular exercise, as it releases stress-reducing endorphins and offers multiple health benefits. However, avoid late-night workouts to prevent an energy boost before bedtime. Consider calming forms of exercise like hatha yoga.
  4. Gradually reduce caffeine intake, as it is a stimulant that can contribute to anxiety. Morning coffee habits may require gradual adjustments.
  5. Minimise nicotine use and cut back on alcohol consumption, as both are associated with increased anxiety. Excessive alcohol can harm mental well-being.
  6. Experiment with meditation, as scientific studies have linked regular meditation to improved brain health. Multiple methods and helpful apps cater to various preferences.
  7. Take a break from social media, as the constant influx of distressing news can become a source of stress. A social media hiatus may help restore calmness.
  8. Consider complementary therapies such as acupuncture, which has been beneficial for some individuals in reducing stress.
  9. Create a designated worry time or maintain a worry notebook to break free from endless rumination. Limiting your worries to a specific period, such as 10 minutes, can help you stay present and productive, reducing anxiety.
  10. Confide in a friend or therapist to vent your frustrations and fears, relieving stress. Above all, practice self-compassion and kindness to yourself.


By implementing these strategies, you can effectively manage fertility anxiety and create a more conducive environment for your journey towards conception.


Dr Anu Chawla is a senior fertility specialist with over 15 years of experience. You can book an appointment with Dr Chawla on her Top Doctors profile.

By Dr Anu Chawla
Fertility specialist

Dr Anu Chawla is a highly-experienced senior fertility specialist, practicing Advanced Reproductive Medicine, in London

Her area of expertise is in Advanced Fertility PracticeRepeated IVF failures, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOSEndometriosis (Current Chairperson of Endometriosis Committee of FOGSI), Reproductive Immunology, Egg Freezing, Fibroids, Male Factor Infertility.

Dr Chawla qualified in medicine in Gujarat University in 2007 and then went on to pursue a Master's degree in obstetrics and gynaecology.  She became a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London, in due course.  

She also obtained a diplomate of the National Board in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She holds Three Post Graduation Degrees in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, one from UK, two from India, from reputable universities. In addition, she did Advanced Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery and another Fellowship in Reproductive Medicine.

She trained in Advanced Level 3D Pelvic Ultrasounds with Prof Stuart Campbell, in London.

She went to the United States to do a Reproductive Medicine Observership Programme at National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Shady Grove Fertility Clinics in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and in IVF Department at the EVMS Jones Institute in Virginia, USA, Centre of Reproductive Medicine New York, New Hope Fertility Centre New York.  

Dr Chawla has been previously appointed as a clinical lead consultant in Advanced Fertility Department at various leading teams in India, where she also founded the esteemed IVF department at the Fortis Memorial Research Institute at Gurgaon in Delhi Region.

Her high success rate and clinical excellence in Fertility Practice, with global expertise and perspective, brought her an offer to come back to London and join St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and the Queen Mary University, London Hospital as a Senior Fertility Specialist, where she did huge numbers of egg collections, embryo transfers etc.

She worked at Create Fertility, St. Paul’s, London and The Fertility and Gynaecology Academy, London.

Combining clinical expertise in both gynaecological Fertility Enhancing Surgery and Reproductive Medicine, Dr Chawla's patients benefit from her sensitive, comprehensive and continuous care throughout their conception journey. 

Dr Anu Chawla's has been actively contributing to the various gynaecology associations, like Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, RCOG, London, The International Federation of OBGYN, FIGO, and the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Societies in India (FOGSI), amongst others.  

Dr Chawla is a regular invited faculty speaker, at various international and academic key fertility and OBGYN conferences around the world. Most recently, she was invited to chair a film festival session on the topic of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Wellbeing at the XXIV FIGO World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics. She was additionally actively involved in campaigning to extend the time span of egg freezing for women in the UK, an amendment which has now been successfully enacted in to law. Dr Chawla also regularly conducts charitable medical projects in India, providing low cost reproductive and gynaecological care for those in need.

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