Why is Trying to Get Pregnant So Hard?
Trying to get pregnant, but find it hard to conceive? You’re not alone.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15 to 44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant.
Whether you’re just starting out trying to get pregnant or you’ve been trying for a while, conception can be tricky. It can have a lot to do with timing, biology, and environment. If you’ve been diagnosed with a disease, then you already understand why it’s hard to get pregnant. But, if you keep getting negative results every time you pee on a pregnancy stick without a reason, then there may be one or more reasons that could be preventing you from getting pregnant.
Why is Trying to Get Pregnant So Hard?
Stress, good or bad, is going to take its toll on you both physically and mentally.
A recent study found that stress activates hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in women, which does affect the female reproductive system. The breakdown: the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) hinders the hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion, and glucocorticoids prevent pituitary luteinizing hormone (LH) and ovarian estrogen and progesterone secretion. Stress can interfere with your menstrual cycle, which can delay your ovulation.
So, if you have been tracking your ovulation, but find you are stressed, your tracking may be off. You may try to conceive when you’re not fertile. Keep in mind, negative or positive stress can impact your reproductive system. When trying to get pregnant, experts suggest keeping anxiety and all stressors to a minimum. Meditation, yoga, acupuncture or therapy are just a few ways to reduce stress.
Weight Gain or Loss
Weight can be a difficult factor because weight varies from woman to woman. However, you want to be at a healthy weight. Excessive weight gain or loss can affect your chances of getting pregnant. Your ovaries produce estrogen, as well as your adipose tissue (fat cells). When you’re at your healthy weight, you typically produce an appropriate amount of estrogen. But, if you gain weight, your adipose tissue ends up producing more estrogen than needed. Too much estrogen can throw off your balance of hormones which can impact your ovulation cycle.
Now, if you’re underweight or have lost an excessive amount of weight, then your ovaries produce less estrogen and produce fewer hormones, which you need to release your egg. Losing too much weight or being underweight can also stop your menstruation altogether (which is known as amenorrhea).
Some research says that a little weight loss may help improve fertility. But it’s important to aim for a healthy BMI rather than just weight. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Having a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered ‘overweight,’ and a BMI over 30 is considered ‘obese.’ Having a BMI under 18.5 is considered ‘underweight.’
Some modifications to your eating habits and exercise regimen may help you with fertility too, but a quick fix is not the solution. If your struggling with weight gain or loss, speak with your doctor to come up with a plan to get you at your healthy weight.
Trouble falling or staying asleep? Sleep is a critical component of your physical and emotional health and well-being. Lack of sleep can impact your cognitive thinking, emotional intelligence, weight, and menstrual cycle. Many times, stress is one of the most significant factors to lack of sleep. And, rest is one of the best ways to help a body relax. It’s counterproductive to ease stress if you’re not able to sleep. Relaxation methods are suggested to help you fall asleep more easily. Speak with your doctor if you find it hard to catch some zzz’s.
Understand Your Menstrual Cycle
If you’re not tracking your fertility hormones and you’re not using an ovulation app, then start doing so to understand your menstrual cycle. Understanding your cycle can help you know your body and when you’re most fertile. When we say understand your menstrual cycle, you probably think about your period and all the side effects that come with that: bloating, mood swings, cramps, hunger, etc.
However, periods aren’t the only part of the cycle that you should be paying attention to. There’s stuff happens when you aren’t bleeding, which is why following your cycle can help you understand your hormones—especially luteinizing hormone (LH)—which allows you to know the opportune time to have intercourse.
Tracking your cycle will also help you and your doctor understand your body better and consider health issues that may not have been noticed if you never started tracking.
You’re healthy, eat well, workout, and have a regular cycle—and still nothing. After a year of trying, your doctor has diagnosed you with unexplained infertility. Probably one of the most disheartening diagnoses possible because doctors don’t know why you and your partner can’t conceive. You want answers but can’t get any. This fact may not make you feel better, but if you’re dealing with unexplained infertility know that you’re not alone. In fact, 12% of the world’s female population experiences infertility. And of these women, 30% are diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
There is a whole slew of health issues that can cause challenges when you’re trying to conceive. It’s important to speak with your doctor to learn how you can manage your health and if/what alternatives are available to help you and your partner have a family.
If you’ve been trying for months and you’re still not pregnant, you’re probably blaming yourself. It’s easier said than done, but try not to blame yourself or your partner. Check in with your partner and see how his fertility is as well.
Trying to conceive is all about timing. Take care of yourself and try not to dwell that it’s taking so long. You’re not alone, and there are many support groups online (like our Facebook community) to help you get through this time.
The contents of this blog were independently prepared, and are for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the views of any other party. Individual results may vary.
✔️ Medically Reviewed by Banafsheh Kashani, MD, FACOG
Banafsheh Kashani, M.D., FACOG is a board-certified OB/GYN and specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Eden Fertility Centers, and has been treating couples and individuals with infertility since 2014. Prior to joining Eden Centers for Advanced Fertility, she was practicing as a top fertility specialist at Kaiser Permanente in Orange County and Reproductive Fertility Center. Dr. Kashani has received numerous awards throughout her years of study and medical training.
Dr. Kashani has conducted extensive research in female reproduction, with a specific focus on the endometrium and implantation. Additionally, Dr. Kashani has authored papers in the areas of fertility preservation, and fertility in women with PCOS and Turners syndrome. She also was part of a large SART-CORS study evaluating the trend in frozen embryo transfers and success rates.
Dr. Kashani is a fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In addition, she is a diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and an active member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and Pacific Coast Reproductive Society (PCRS). She is also a member of the Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (SREI).