Patient Resources

How Stress Makes Getting Pregnant Difficult

Whether or not stress can cause infertility is a looming question that floats through many women’s minds. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that “Even though infertility is very stressful, there isn’t any proof that stress causes infertility.” While extreme amounts of stress may affect fertility, it rarely results in long-term troubles.

Stress and Fertility | NCCRM

Stress itself does not seem to cause infertility, but it can push us closer to unhealthy behaviors that can affect fertility. Stress can cause us to participate in things such as:

  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Emotional eating
  • Exercising too hard or not at all
  • Poor alcoholic drinking habits
  • Smoking habits
  • Losing interest in sex
  • Drinking too much caffeine

How Sleep Affects Fertility

A constant lack of sleep can affect your body, therefore affecting your fertility. Research has shown that those who sleep less than five hours a night are more likely to suffer from obesity, which can also lead to problems with fertility. Research has also shown that working the night shift can cause irregular menstruation in some women and may increase the rate of miscarriage if working close to the day of ovulation. 

How Emotional Eating Affects Fertility

Stress can cause people to develop unhealthy eating habits, causing weight gain, which has been linked to fertility problems. Similarly, being underweight can also affect your fertility. Stress can cause people to lose their appetite, causing them to lose weight. The eating disorder known as anorexia can end the menstrual cycle, meaning there is no ovulation. Without ovulation, a woman can not get pregnant.

How Over-Exercising Affects Fertility

A study found that women who reported that they worked out four or more hours per week for the past one to nine years were 40 percent less likely to have a live birth from IVF. They were twice as likely to experience implantation failure or pregnancy loss and three times more likely to have a treatment cycle canceled. If you are trying to lose weight, four or more hours of exercise a week is ideal. However, if you are trying to get pregnant, it may be a good idea to cut back on cardio.

How Alcohol Affects Fertility

Drinking three or more alcoholic drinks a week can significantly lower your chance of pregnancy, especially if you are already having trouble conceiving. However, it is best to completely avoid drinking when you are trying to get pregnant. Alcohol has also been linked to lower fertility rates in men.

How Smoking Affects Fertility

Smoking is associated with an increased risk of blocked fallopian tubes, increased cervical cancer risk, damage to the eggs in the ovaries, and an increased risk of miscarriage in women. For men, smoking was found to decrease the chances of success with IVF and possibly increase the risk of miscarriage. Secondhand smoke can also harm a female’s fertility.

How Decreased Sex Drive Affects Fertility

Having a low sex drive affects fertility because, well, you have to have sex to get pregnant. Having sex once or twice a month is typically not enough to get pregnant. Infertility may also lower your sex drive and can lead to impotence in men. 

How Caffeine Affects Fertility

A research study examined couples who went through IVF treatment, but later tried to conceive naturally. Drinking four or more cups of coffee a day reduced a couple’s chance of conceiving by 26 percent. It is advised to stick to less than 300mg of caffeine per day.


The North Carolina Center for Reproductive Medicine/Talbert Fertility Institute is the premiere center for reproductive health in North Carolina and the East Coast. Our team specializes in fertility testing, diagnosis, and treatment of infertility conditions. We’re experts in IVF, Tubal Ligation Reversal, Male Infertility, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), Gestation Surrogacy, Family Balancing, and more. Contact us today.

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