Mental health & Fertility: 8 out of 10 reported anxiety while trying to conceive
Recently, Mira conducted a survey among those trying to conceive (TTC) to explore how the fertility journey impacts mental health.
The survey of 289 subscribers found that 99% of respondents feel anxious about their chances of getting pregnant, with just over a third (33.8%) of respondents reporting that their stress levels are a 10 out of 10. Some of the most common contributing factors include medical issues that impact fertility, feelings of uncertainty surrounding what to do to get pregnant, and social pressure from friends and family.
While stress and anxiety are not a direct cause of infertility, they can make the process of getting pregnant more difficult. To shed light on this topic, here is a deep dive into our survey results along with some practical advice for those TTC.
Of the 300+ respondents, 23% have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), 8% with endometriosis, and 32% have received a diagnosis of unexplained infertility. The remaining 28.8% of respondents do not currently struggle with any reproductive issues.
Fertility & Anxiety
99% of respondents admitted to feeling “anxious” about their chances of getting pregnant, with 8 out of every 10 respondents admitting that they feel anxious “all the time”.
We also asked participants to rate their stress level in regard to their fertility. The average stress level of all respondents was 8.3 out of 10, with 33.8% of respondents reporting that their stress levels were 10 out of 10.
Of those respondents who have received an unexplained infertility diagnosis, 37% admitted to feeling “defective”, 34% felt “really depressed”, and 29% admitted that they used to blame themselves for not being able to get pregnant. 32% also reported that their fertility-related stress levels feel “comparable to a cancer diagnosis”.
First Steps of Fertility Journey
When asked to reflect on the start of their fertility journey, 86% of respondents admitted that they “sometimes” felt uncertain about what steps they needed to take to try for a baby. An additional 65% reported that they have a lack of fertility education.
When asked about the initial steps of their TTC journey, 73% reported that they began taking prenatal vitamins, 68.2 % began reading information related to fertility and pregnancy, 67.1% tried using ovulation trackers, and 58.8% visited their doctor.
Fertility & Other People
40% of respondents claimed that they “hate” when other people ask them about their baby plans, while 22% also reported that they hate it when others share inappropriate advice.
When asked to reflect on the pregnancies of others, only 13.6% of respondents shared that they feel “fine” about other women sharing their positive tests and pregnancy announcements on social media. The majority (59.6%) of respondents claimed that it “depends”, i.e. sometimes they are okay with certain announcements while others are painful. Over a quarter (27.4%) admitted that pregnancy-related content on social media makes them feel “terrible”.
We also asked participants who they speak to about their fertility issues. Surprisingly, less than half (42%) of respondents shared that they openly discuss their fertility issues with their partner. Additionally, only 2% said that they open up about their fertility issues on social media.
When it comes to how fertility impacts relationships with others, 43% of respondents shared that their fertility issues have a negative effect on their marriage or relationship. Only 11.7% said that their fertility issues affected their relationship in a positive way, while 32.6% claimed that it had no effect.
Finally, we asked participants about where they get their biggest support from during their fertility journey. 75% of respondents named their partner, 32% chose their friends, and 26% chose ovulation trackers.
Maintaining Good Mental Health While TTC: 4 Practical Tips
Based on this survey, we’ve identified some key areas of mental health that those TTC may struggle with. This includes:
- Elevated levels of stress and anxiety related to getting pregnant.
- Feelings of uncertainty and ill-preparedness as they start their TTC journey.
- Negative feelings and frustration when faced with pregnancy-related questions, advice, and announcements from others – especially on social media.
- Feelings of isolation and difficulty opening up about their TTC journey and fertility issues.
If you are currently struggling with your mental health while TTC, know that you are not alone. These challenges are normal, and there are things you can do to protect your mental health while trying for a baby. Here are four practical tips to consider.
- Tackle stress and anxiety head-on
Keeping anxiety and stress levels at a minimum is not only good for you, but it’s good for your fertility too. Thankfully, there are scientifically-proven ways that we can do just that. This includes exercising regularly, maintaining a balanced diet, getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and trying some breathing exercises.
It’s also a good idea to be mindful of your well-being online. For example, if you know that a certain social media account is likely to trigger negative thoughts related to getting pregnant, it’s okay to take a break and unfollow them for a while.
- Learn more about how fertility works
Even though you may feel like there are gaps in your education regarding fertility, there is nothing stopping you from learning more about it now.
Looking for a place to start? Our dedicated blog has hundreds of medically-reviewed articles that cover everything you need to know about getting pregnant, tracking your cycle, and coping with conditions like PCOS and endometriosis.
- Know your hormones
Hormones play a significant role in your ability to get pregnant. And thanks to technologies like the Mira App and Analyzer, they no longer have to be a mystery.
By tracking your fertility hormones on a regular basis, you can take the guesswork out of planning a pregnancy and get pregnant faster. You’ll also be able to identify any potential concerns early on, giving you the chance to seek help from your doctor as soon as possible.
- Get your partner involved
Looking after your fertility health in order to get pregnant can feel isolating. However, instead of closing yourself off to your partner, it’s important to speak to them about your challenges and get them involved with the process. They are there to support you, but you have to open up to them first.