Ask an expert series is a space for you to get answers to all your questions. Have a question you’ve been wondering about? Ask here.
I’m 28 and have been actively trying to get pregnant for the last six months. I’ve been fooled by my period for the last two months when it came three days later than regularly scheduled making me excited that I may be pregnant- then finding out I was not. Everyone keeps telling me when I ‘stop stressing about it, it’ll happen’. It’s hard not to think about wanting to get pregnant and feel bummed when others around me are finding out they are pregnant. I don’t feel I am stressing, but maybe I am? How am I not supposed to think about wanting to get pregnant? I’ve wanted to be a mom my whole life and now I have the chance and it hasn’t happened just yet. How much of a role can stress play on fertility? Does thoughts about wanting to get pregnant or being bothered by others getting pregnant mean I’m stressing and causing fertility issues?
This is such a good question and touches on a topic that needs to be discussed more. It is incredibly common to experience that strong desire to conceive after you start trying to get pregnant. It is a deep human biological drive and interestingly, there is a part of the brain that actually changes throughout a fertility journey. What happens is that the fear center, or amygdala, can start to take over, creating a more anxious or emotional state that is similar to a flight or fight response when there is a potential threat to survival. It causes us to over fixate on everything pregnancy related. A common scenario: you start trying to get pregnant and all of a sudden, and all you see are pregnant women and babies everywhere you look!
Stress can interrupt the frequency of ovulation through an inter-communication of the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands, otherwise known as the HPA axis. There are a lot of tools available to help bring stress down. Definitely talk to your trusted healthcare provider to discuss ideas, but also know that it is incredibly common to not get pregnant on the first try. Even the most fertile couples have about a 20% chance of getting pregnant every cycle for the first year.