Can Stress Affect Implantation? Here's What Science Has To Say

Ad failed to load

Stress is a powerful emotion that can affect you physically, mentally, and emotionally. And if you're trying to conceive, it's hard to know exactly how impactful any stress you may or may not be feeling could be. So, can implantation be affected by stress? According to science, yes, but, thankfully, there are more than a few ways you can try to reduce the level of stress you face in a daily basis and, as a result, increase your chances of conceiving.

According to The American Pregnancy Association (APA), implementation is described as the moment when a "6- to 12-day-old fertilized egg attaches to the interior lining of the uterus." If you're trying to conceive without medical intervention, stress may already be affecting the way you menstruate and/or ovulate. However, some studies have shown that low to moderate levels of stress don't necessarily prevent a successful implantation, especially when a woman trying to conceive is stressed about not becoming pregnant. This was found to be true among women undergoing fertility treatments, too. A 2011 BMJ study concluded emotional distress caused by fertility problems won't "compromise" any chance of becoming pregnant. If anything, researchers found that women experiencing extreme levels of anxiety and depression while going through IVF were "just as likely to get pregnant than those who didn't."

Some women have light bleeding when implantation occurs, too (usually around a menstrual period), but others don't, making it difficult to know if a fertilized egg successfully attached to the uterus or not. If implantation isn't successful, you'll know by your next menstrual cycle.

Ad failed to load
Ashley Batz/Romper

Sher Fertility, one of the largest networks of infertility clinic practices in the country, says that stress disrupts our body's process of releasing FSH (Follicle-Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Luteinizing Hormone) that help develop a mature egg. As a result, the brain might relay a message to the ovaries telling them "to stop releasing mature eggs due to intense stress or calorie deprivation," which further contributes to delayed ovulation, or no ovulation at all. When it comes to the implantation process, the second half of your menstrual cycle — also known as the "luteal phase" — can actually be greatly affected by even the slightest stress, Sher Fertility adds. If you're stressed, the release of LH could affect how long the luteal phase lasts and, as a result, a possible disruption of your menstrual cycle can occur.

Another study published in Fertility and Sterility found that women with higher levels of a substance called alpha-amylase were less likely to get pregnant that those with lower levels. Alpha-amylase reacts to your body's physical or psychological stress. Study author Germaine Buck Louis, Ph.D., M.S., director of the NICHD’s Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, and Prevention Research, said, in part, that "stress may increase with the disappointment of several failed attempts at getting pregnant, setting off a cycle in which pregnancy becomes even more difficult to achieve."

Ad failed to load

Dr. Kecia Gaither, OB-GYN, and Director of Perinatal Services for NYC Health and Hospitals, has some additional insight, telling Romper via email how complicated implantation can actually be. "There are particular proteins on the uterine lining that facilitate the embryo attaching itself, so to speak, in a normal fashion," Gaither says. "Additionally, there needs to be an adequate blood supply available within the uterine site, which will allow the developing embryo to obtain oxygen and nutrients. So in cases on stress, where the release of substances like cortisol and epinephrine are had, certain blood flow is altered which can, theoretically, interfere with normal implantation."

When it comes to the affect of stress and implantation, Dr. Gaither says it "remains to be seen," adding "there are conditions like endometriosis or PID where inflammatory mediators can impact uterine proteins responsible for implantation. But again, stress —alone— the jury, I believe, is out on that one, and more research needs to be had in that arena."

Ashley Batz/Romper
Ad failed to load

With all these possibilities and precautionary unknowns, what does it all mean in terms of a successful implantation and pregnancy? The mounting evidence suggests that even a small amount stress can potentially cause problems with implantation. If you think about it, in terms of your overall health stress in the slightest affects your daily habits. From how you eat to how you sleep, and yes, your sex drive, it only seems logical it might also have an affect on fertility in some way.

Conflicting studies only make things more confusing. It's universally known reducing stress is psychologically, physically, and emotionally beneficial, so it's safe to say you should do your best to reduce the amount of stress you face on a daily basis as much as possible. But, it's also clear more research needs to be done to quantifiably prove if stress directly contributes to the implantation process. In the words of Dr. Gaither, it remains to be seen.

Ad failed to load

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

I’m Registered At Babies “R” Us, & I'm Freaking The Hell Out

Hi. My name is Abi, and I’m registered at Babies “R” Us — and I’m freaking out. This may sound silly, but after being a die-hard Toys “R” Us kid, I was so excited to register at their baby store once my husband and I finally got our big fat positive …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

Women Who Miscarry Early Deserve To Grieve — Here's How Hospitals Should Be Helping

When I lost my baby back in 2013, it was because of a very early miscarriage. Because of the little amount of time I spent being pregnant, it was though my child had never really existed, which made the next few years hard — I felt like they had been…
By Risa Kerslake

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

7 Reasons Why March Babies Are Total Badasses

From the moment you become pregnant, you begin to wonder what your little one will be like. Will they look like you, your partner, or your Great Aunt Edna? Will they be the quiet, thoughtful type or arrive on this planet raring to go? It's fun to ima…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

9 Easy Kid Foods To Turn Green, Just In Time For St. Patrick's Day

The best part about having kids is that you get your own personal crew to celebrate the holidays with, in all your color coordinating and matching glory. And with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, you are obviously working on turning everyth…
By Mishal Ali Zafar

Here Are Some Conditions That Might Require You To Be On Bed Rest During Pregnancy

When I worked in an office, I worked with quite a few pregnant ladies all at the same time. Something must have been in the water, because while I was there for three years, two of my coworkers got pregnant twice, and another girl was pregnant with h…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

I Didn't Follow The Pregnancy Diet Rules & My Daughter Turned Out Just Fine

My diet is an ever-changing and wholly personal thing, which is precisely why I refused to follow any pregnancy diet rules when I was expecting my daughter. For years, I've essentially practiced intuitive eating, in that I listen to my body and eat w…
By Marie Southard Ospina

5 Foods You & Your Partner Should Eat If You're Trying To Get Pregnant

When you're trying to conceive (TTC) and it's just not happening, it's easy to feel like you're doing something wrong. It can be soul-crushing to keep seeing negatives when all you really want to do is wave a positive pregnancy test in the air. So wh…
By Kate Miller