Does Stress Decrease Your Chances of Getting Pregnant?

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While many factors contribute to a couple's anxiety, the major focus of mental health care for infertile couples is to help them cope with the emotional impact of infertility treatment. Joining a support group and participating in relaxation approaches like meditation have shown to help some couples, if not to conceive, to overcome their feeling discouraged.

"We talk about how to handle feelings of guilt and shame," she said.

Kristen Hale's friends have recommended all types of alternative treatments -- everything from meditation to herbal drinks, she said. But because she feels like she's got a lot riding on her upcoming IUI treatment, she feels like investing her time in other methods could interfere with her chances.

"Maybe I could do both but I feel like it would be starting over for me. I'll feel like I'm going backwards by not putting all my focus on the medical procedure," said Hale.

In fact, while some evidence supports alternative therapies to enhance fertility in some women, a mind-body approach may not be the best fertility method, said Grifo.

"I don't think there's a right or wrong for fertility treatments. A lot of patients benefit from mind-body approaches while others don't," said Grifo. "You should not feel obligated to do anything."

And for some couples for whom no approach may work, more important than stress relief is to support the couple as they overcome their emotional grief, he said.

"Telling women that fertility treatments didn't work because they were stressed is making them feel bad for no reason because it's not even right," said Grifo.

Grifo equated conception to a numbers game. For many, it's about the right egg at the right time. Not all eggs work and not every cycle guarantees pregnancy, he said.

"Women should know not to worry if they're stressed out, it's not going to keep you from getting pregnant," said Grifo. "It's not your fault the cycle failed. It could be that just that time you didn't get the one good embryo."

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