Trying to get pregnant can be stressful, and it doesn’t help that there’s no pause button on life when you’re ready to procreate.
Now a new study published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology finds that all your aggravations and anxieties can make it even more difficult to conceive. When 400 women reported their daily stress levels on a scale from 1 to 4 while recording additional data like how often they had sex throughout the course of 20 cycles or until they got pregnant, researchers found that women who reported the most stress around ovulation — the only time of month when you can actually get pregnant — were 40 percent less likely to conceive than they were during less stressful months.
Another pattern emerged among the 139 women who got pregnant during the study: Right after ovulation, their stress levels skyrocketed, likely due to hormonal changes. Pregnancy stress is real even before you know you’re pregnant.
While experts are still figuring out exactly how stress affects fertility, the worst thing you can do is let these new findings freak you out or confuse you. Being stressed AF is not an effective birth control method or a telltale sign that you’re pregnant.
The best thing you can do is heed warnings from the study’s authors, who urge everyone to take emotional and psychological factors more seriously when it comes to getting pregnant. As for women who are especially anxious about conceiving: Be sure to exercise, meditate, talk to a mental health pro, or do whatever it is you do to keep stress to a minimum until you pass that pregnancy test.