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How Do Depression & Anxiety Affect Fertility & Pregnancy?

13 January, 2020
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Mood disorders are fairly common around the world. 

In fact, the U.S. population alone holds 19 million people who deal with anxiety and 18 million people suffering from depression. Not to mention, more than half of the individuals from either category deal with a mixture of both feelings, which can lead to some serious challenges when it comes to starting a family.

How Does Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Affect Fertility and Pregnancy?

Just like when you feel yourself taking on a cold or your allergies are flaring up, your body takes note of stress levels. 

For example, Alice Domar, an infertility researcher and director of mind/body services at Boston IVF, shares that "your body is smart, it knows that (periods of stress) aren't good times to have a baby." 

Her insight is backed by several studies that showcase how women under stress may take up to 29% longer to achieve pregnancy than women who are less stressed. Plus, women under a great deal of stress or anxiety may have less sex, are more prone to smoking and alcohol consumption, and may even drink more caffeinated beverages—all activities that lessen one's chances of conceiving. 

In addition to unhealthy behavior, depression and anxiety during pregnancy present more or less the same challenges. Along with poor diet and alcohol consumption, expectant mothers may be more likely to smoke, be less active and unmotivated, as well as develop suicidal thoughts. All of which leads to extreme challenges for individuals and their partners, or the infant's development. Babies born from stressful, anxious, or depressed circumstances have the potential to be...

  • Born premature
  • Have a low birth rate
  • Have developmental issues
  • Have potential birth defects

Overall, finding a balance and leading a healthy life before and during pregnancy is essential. With the right insight and care, women dealing with stress or depression can manage their feelings and promote mindfulness to ensure a successful pregnancy in the future. 

Tips to Manage Your Mood

Regardless of whether or not you're attempting to get pregnant or you're looking for ways to reduce stress or depression during your pregnancy, below are a few tips that can help alleviate and elevate your mood: 

  1. Exercise Regularly: Although it may sound challenging, studies show that regular exercise (between 1-5 hours per week) can enhance fertility and lower stress levels. That being said, moderate activities are best, such as walking, stretching, Yoga, or swimming. 

exercise to manage mood

  1. Weight Management: Research shows that women who are obese have trouble getting pregnant 3 times more than women who are of a healthy weight. In addition, being obese increases a woman's odds of staying pregnant, so to avoid chances of miscarriage or prolonged attempts, weight management through proper nutrition and physical activity is highly important for a successful pregnancy. 

  2. Diet: Essentially, women who are trying to conceive or who are already pregnant should try to avoid processed foods or foods with high sugar content. Instead, opting for a diet replete with natural grains, fatty acids from Omega-3s, and organic fish produces higher chances of achieving pregnancy.

These three tips are the primary steps one can take to live a healthier, stress-free life throughout their pregnancy journey. However, there are plenty of other opportunities available with the right guidance. 
Take our Fertility Quiz to figure out where your journey should begin!

Next Steps to Improve the Success of Your Pregnancy

Finding a solution to your feelings before and during pregnancy can be a difficult process, but our team at Kofinas Fertility Group is here to help. 

Working with a fertility expert can inspire you to see what changes can be made in your personal routine and ways of thinking. Plus, having someone who understands your feelings and struggles through pregnancy attempts and conceiving, and with fertility treatment options, can alleviate a lot of fears and anxieties that you may be experiencing. 

That being said, Kofinas Fertility Group is here to support you every step of the way.

Request an appointment to get the help you're looking for!

George Kofinas

Read about the treatment philosophy of founder and medical director of Kofinas Fertility Group in New York, Dr. George Kofinas.

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