5 reasons you’re not getting pregnant

Keep getting negative results every time you pee on a stick? Here are five fertility saboteurs that could be the reasons you’re not getting pregnant.

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Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

You already know the drill—when you’re trying to conceive you can’t leave the house without seeing pregnant bellies. Every time you turn on the TV there’s a sweet baby in a diaper commercial staring back at you. You always seem to spot at least four newborns snuggled up in carriers perched on top of grocery carts when you run into the supermarket.

Whether you’re a few months into trying or are thinking about starting a family soon, you know doubt have babies on the brain. By now you likely know that many of us don’t get pregnant the first time we try. But what might be surprising news is that there are fertility saboteurs that can wreak havoc on your chances of conceiving. Here’s how to deal with five that could be obstructing your road to baby bliss.

Stress
When you mention to friends and family that you’re “trying,” you’ll almost guaranteed to hear someone say, “Just relax and it will happen.” Easier said than done. Stress, good or bad, is going to take its toll on you both physically and mentally. According to naturopathic doctor Via Bitidis, co-director of the North Toronto Naturopathic Clinic, balance and calm are a crucial part of trying to conceive. “When you’re stressed your adrenal system takes a hit. Your body isn’t going to say, ‘Okay, let’s get pregnant.’ Learning to say no and to take time for yourself is important for improving your chances of having a baby.” Megan Karnis, medical director of The ONE Fertility Clinic in Burlington, Ont., agrees with a word of caution: “A lot of women think the best thing to do when you’re stressed is to take time off work. In my experience, that doesn’t help, because it makes a woman feel she has to get pregnant in that time and then the stress to get pregnant is so much higher,” she says. Instead of altering your day-to-day routine entirely, Karnis recommends counselling, art therapy, meditation and exercise to reduce stress levels.

Read more: Fertility and conception tips>

Sleep deprivation
You already know that catching an adequate number of zzz’s makes that morning department meeting more bearable, but here’s another reason to get yourself to bed before the wee hours. Sleep deprivation puts stress on the body (there’s that pesky s-word again) and when you’re tired, you don’t run on all cylinders. “For people who don’t get enough sleep, their immune systems are down a little bit and they’re more likely to get infections, which will affect the reproductive cycle,” Karnis says. “This applies to men as well. Infections can cause fever and that excess heat can damage the sperm temporarily,” she says. “Women who don’t get enough sleep can also start to feel anxious, which may cause missed periods.” Keeping yourself healthy is the baby bottom line, so set the PVR to record Mad Men and enforce a new bedtime.

Weight issues
A woman who is underweight or overweight may have some difficulty conceiving a baby. “An undernourished body may not ovulate properly,” says Bitidis. On the other hand, excess weight can have a significant effect on fertility. “Just being over your ideal weight decreases your chance of getting pregnant even if you are ovulating regularly,” says Karnis. “The further you stray above 25 on the Body Mass Index, the worse it gets.” Maintaining a healthy diet and developing a reasonable exercise routine will do wonders for your mind and body,” Bitidis adds.

Read more: BMI and getting pregnant (video)>

Cycle confusion
“A lot of women don’t understand their own cycles,” says Bitidis. Most of us were taught the typical 28-day cycle in health class back in high school, but every woman is different and cycles vary in length. “The biggest thing is timing,” Karnis says. “We teach women that ovulation is two weeks before your period. Most people think that it’s two weeks after, but that’s only if you have a four-week cycle,” she says. You’ll have better luck conceiving if you monitor ovulation and start having sex at the right time. “We also teach people about sperm life—they can live for three days in the cervix, so you don’t have to have sex on the day of ovulation, it could be the day before. We also find that a lot of people don’t know that lubricant decreases sperm motility and transfer, so you shouldn’t use lubricant when you’re trying to get pregnant,” says Karnis.

Biofeedback
“Keeping a positive attitude is incredibly important. There is a huge mind-body connection. Try not to listen to the negative stories and try to be patient,” Bitidis advises. Preparing for pregnancy up to a year in advance may be a good idea if you’re planning to start a family in the near future, that way you can focus on making lifestyle changes. If you’re trying now, remember that it can take time—experts say up to a year— to conceive. If you’re concerned that it has taken too long, speak to your healthcare provider about your options for fertility counselling and treatment.

Originally published in September 2010

15 comments on “5 reasons you’re not getting pregnant

  1. what is the lubricant? when i started to fell get pregnent.is that possible I fell pregnent before I test

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  2. i heard conceive easy is giving away free ovulation & pregnancy tests. that should help! i hated charting temps to figure out ovulation.

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    • yeah I bought the “ovulation test” $20- $30 later didn’t work :( now I am going to call a doctor. Honestly never thought I’d be one of these women saying “my biological clock is a ticking time bomb but it is!” just turned 34 Dec. 2014 and still no baby. I could cry. Sorry

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      • Jenny i know how very frustrating it can be. i have turned to the net as my supportive group just so i can read stories of people i can relate to. All my friends have kids and my dear hubby and i have tried for 5 years!!! fertility drugs, ovulation kits name it. still NOTHING. i can’t get out of the house when i come home from work because i can’t bear to see all the happy families. I have asked God a million times to tell me the biggest sin i committed, i get nothing. I cry all the time and i am just sad . I am slowly thinking i should accept this life without any babies. I wouldn’t wish what i am going through on anyone .
        good luck and hope that if there is a God somewhere he will remember you and bless you with lots of babies.

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        • Recently one of my friend conceived after 5 yrs, she said laparoscopy helped her

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      • I am in the same boat as you…I’m tired of peeing on sticks and it’s all I can think about. I really thought it was just happen and it is so frustrating and upsetting. I get so sad when my period arrives, then try to be upbeat and try again next time. I did just order a home fertility tester from early-pregnancy-tester.com to try but have to wait until next cycle. Also got some Evening Primrose Oil from them too as I read it can help. I quit drinking alcohol and caffeine too. Good luck to you…

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  3. I was 32 when I finally got pregnant. Things I tried were here getting-pregnant.info

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  4. hi i cant get pregant i had implon in and it out few months and me my parnter is trying but it not workin

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    • Same with me I took the implont off and am trying to get pregnant and I cant I have 3months trying and no luck

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  5. I love TSC they are so wonderful.

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  6. My boyfriend and I have been trying to conceive for three month. I am scared something is broke..what should we do?

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  7. You are right about the stress! My friend was extremely worried that she would never conceive, but she did thanks to relaxing a bit, and reading Pregnancy Miracle by Lisa Olsen. There is a review and more info here >> http://pregnancymiraclebookreview.weebly.com

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  8. 6. It could be implantation bleeding, I mean what she’s experienced. While a missed period is often the first sign of pregnancy, there are a whole host of symptoms to look out for such as Bleeding or Spotting known as implantation bleeding, Increased Need to Urinate, Tender or Swollen Breasts, Fatigue, Nausea (Morning Sickness), and Abdominal Bloating. But you have to test it for sure to know if you are pregnant or not. Anyway, I’ve bought the ‘Pregnancy Blueprint by Lindsey Johan e-book’ from pregnancyblueprint.net and after reading it. It had a lot of information about how to boost your fertility and pregnancy. Information like how to get pregnant fast and have a healthy pregnancy, how to pinpoint your ovulation date accurately even if you have PCOS and irregular period, after miscarriage, and for women of more than 40 years old and so much more. The book itself contains more than 200 pages. It’s the best pregnancy guide I’ve ever read. Hope it helps

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  9. Although stress is obviously linked to concieving… Studies have Also been done looking at IVF patients and have shown that fertility treatments can be just as stressful if not more stressful for couples going through IVF in relation to cancer patients (obviously you can’t compare the two… But looking at stress in relation to both events). — but Depsite the stress IVF still works for so many couples. So when ppl say ‘don’t stress/ relax/ just be patient/. It’s not possible to relax and ‘not’ try when you’ve been trying for so long. Your always going to be ‘trying’ if you want to be a mom… How can you not try — it’s always in the back of your mind! It’s difficult when all of your friends have kids and had them very easily and their response is — stop trying so hard… Huh!? How do you try ‘too’ hard for something you want so much in your life. You either have sex around ovulation time and it works or doesn’t work or you pay thousands and thousands of dollars to be hopefully allowed a transfer of an embryo you pray becomes that baby your holding 37 weeks later! For those of you who left comments… I’ve also been through whirl winds those emotional rollercoasters up and down every month over and over for 5 plus years. Unexplained infertility … Everything right up to four failed IVF cycles. I used to have to run out of Walmart bc i would burst into tears when I saw a mom with her infant… Time hardens you sort of.. It’s never easy… But you learn to hold back tears eventually… And I truly hope for a miricale to happen for each and every one of you — no one should ever have to endure the emotional roller coaster that is infertility! I’m currently expecting with an absolute miricale… No matter how down in the dumps you get just know it can happen… Eventually.. There might just be a whole lot of tears along the way.

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  10. This is frankly insulting. A number of these, like “just relax” and “biofeedback”are myths. There is no mention of the actual medical issues, experienced by both men and women, that cause infertility. This is only furthering the ignorance and insults that people experiencing infertility have to deal with. Awful. Try bringing awareness to the actual causes of infertility, diseases like PCOS and endometriosis.

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