A few small lifestyle changes can make a big difference when it comes to increasing your odds of getting pregnant. “Each suggestion individually won’t make an infertile couple fertile, but taken together, doing these things can make a significant difference in how likely you are to become pregnant,” says Michael R. Soules, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist in Seattle and past president of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Here are some strategies you'll want to try.
Stress can delay or prevent ovulation, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and women under chronic stress may ovulate less regularly. Of course, trying to have a baby can increase your stress level, creating a vicious cycle. Some research shows that stress may also affect testosterone levels and sperm production in men. And there’s new evidence that stress management may boost your odds of getting pregnant.
In a study of 97 women undergoing their second month of treatment with in vitro fertilization, pregnancy rates were 52 percent among women who also learned stress management strategies compared to only 20 percent among women who didn’t have stress management training. “More than a dozen studies have shown that distress is associated with lower pregnancy rates in IVF,” says study head Alice Domar, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF, and assistant professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School. “The reasons aren’t clear, although stress is known to cause spasms in the uterus, and may have other effects on fertility as well. The message of this study isn’t simply ‘just relax and you will get pregnant,’ however. Our stress management program here is pretty rigorous.” In fact, the women in this study underwent a ten-week mind/body program that included relaxation training, cognitive-behavioral strategies, and participation in group support. Trying some stress reduction exercises on your own probably won’t hurt, but the best strategy may be to see if your doctor or local hospital could refer you to a comprehensive stress management program in your area.