Does Relaxing Help You Get Pregnant? Here's What Science Has To Say

Ad failed to load

The moment you decide to try and conceive, waiting to hold a positive pregnancy test can feel daunting and, sometimes, frustrating. With that frustration comes, inevitably, stress. There's plenty of conversations going around about how mental health plays, or doesn't play, a role in fertility, miscarriage, and pregnancy, but to what extent is unclear. I can, however, tell you that I've heard "relax and it'll happen" more times than I care to admit. But does relaxing help you get pregnant, or is that just something well-meaning people say when they have no real (or helpful) advice?

A 2001 study from Harvard University Medical School reports that for women struggling to conceive, relaxation techniques (such as group therapy or meditation) more than doubles the chances of successfully becoming pregnant. The study concluded that by putting too much focus on something that may or may not happen, you're only making yourself vulnerable to stress, anxiety, and depression. Jean Twenge, psychology professor and author of The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant, tells The Bump that when it comes to excessive worrying while trying to conceive, you should “allow yourself to think about what’s worrying you for 10 minutes and then stop.” Twenge goes on to add that, of course, it's definitely easier to say you'll relax than actually relaxing, but by a simple act of distracting yourself (reading or watching a movie), a particular moment of stress can, at least momentarily, pass.

Monkey Business/Fotolia
Ad failed to load

The connection between infertility and stress is a complicated one to unravel. However, as Alice Domar, PhD, executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF, points out to Parents, recent research confirms there are at least some links between stress and fertility issues. "Most people who cannot get pregnant have an actual physical explanation," she says, adding that the more time that passes without a pregnancy the greater chance, "high levels of stress can still make getting pregnant more difficult." The American Psychological Association agrees, at least to some extent, stating that studies show introducing some interventions to reduce a "patients' anxiety, depression, and so-called infertility-specific stress," but that it varies with every woman because there isn't a one-fix-for all option.

A 2016 study published in Annals of Epidemiology found that higher stress levels when a woman is ovulating might reduce the possibility of successful conception. It makes sense that learning to "relax," or seeking out meaningful, therapeutic coping mechanisms to deal with every day stressors, would help reduce high levels of stress and, as a result, contribute to a higher probability of getting pregnant, right? The problem, however, with merely trying to "relax" is that sometime, underlying conditions, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCS), make it less about your mental or emotional state and more about a physical condition you have no control over. So, of course, these physical barriers to pregnancy should be ruled out before you and your health care practitioners focus only on your mental and emotional state.

Narong Jongsirikul/Fotolia
Ad failed to load

Still, t should go without saying that reducing stress and learning to relax is beneficial to your overall health and wellbeing. has some helpful tips on how to relax, including getting off social media more often, shortening your to-do list, utilizing exercise and decompression strategies, and practicing mindfulness. In terms of whether or not you'll get pregnant after mastering the art of relaxation, there's no guarantee. If you've ruled out any underlying medical conditions, and are actively managing your stress, but still aren't pregnant after a considerable length of time, you should talk to your doctor about other ways you could potentially move things forward on the path towards parenthood.

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
Ad failed to load
Must Reads

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

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

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

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

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