Thursday, September 24, 2020

Coping with Fertility Challenges


Updated 2019:

by Pec Indman EdD, MFT


It seems that when you want to get pregnant, every woman you see is pregnant or has kids. Even the guy with the beer belly looks like he’s expecting!

Maybe you’ve been told, “don’t stress, just relax and it will happen.” But each month brings anxiety; every period means another failed attempt. Stress turns to distress coupled with frustration, and even greater worries that this new level of “stress” may only further decrease the likelihood of conceiving.

Finding Control

To reduce stress and anxiety, it’s helpful to first clarify what’s in your control. For example, you can take prenatal vitamins with folic acid, eat healthy food, stop smoking, and address other health habits that contribute to fertility and well-being.

It’s in your control to make sure you are getting regular health care for any ongoing problems and that you aren’t taking any medications that cause birth defects. You can make sure you’re mentally healthy for pregnancy and parenting.

It’s also in your control to monitor your ovulation and learn when best to have intercourse to increase your likelihood of conceiving. Actually conceiving? Well that part, unfortunately, isn’t entirely in your control.

If you’ve been trying to conceive for at least 6 months, ask your healthcare provider about when it would be appropriate to take “next steps,” and what those would look like for you and your partner.

Reduce stress and anxiety with positive self-talk and affirmation:


“What if I never get pregnant?”

Just because I haven’t gotten pregnant yet, is there any evidence or reason to believe I will never get pregnant? There are a number of different ways to be a mom.

“I feel angry at my body; it’s letting me down.”

My body is doing the best it can. This is a very complicated process. We may need a little more practice, more fun, and time to get it right.

“How can I not be stressed—everyone else can get pregnant!”

I am not everyone else. I don’t know every pregnant person’s story. I don’t have to compare myself to anyone else.

“The stress is getting to be too much!”

I can go to yoga, a mindfulness class, acupuncture or see a healthcare expert for advice.  I can take a break from “trying”.

“I feel so out of control.”

Yup, much of conception is out of my control. But, I am doing well with that which is in my control. I can continue to do that well, and acknowledge what is out of my hands.

It can be very helpful to work with a psychotherapist who can serve as a coach, teacher, and guide along the path.  Your partner may or may not be able to fill that role.  You don’t have to do it alone.

Pec Indman EdD, MFT 408-255-1730

Reducing stress in your struggles to conceive is within your reach….

(an article I wrote for the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses’ website,

© Pec Indman 2019

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