Trying to get pregnant can be an emotional time and worries about fertility can be many. There are worries about time – how long it might be taking to get pregnant – is time running out – do you still have time? Worries about whether you will ever become a mother because that is an important role to you. And there are worries about your body – why isn’t it behaving and doing what it should – what is wrong with you that you haven’t become pregnant yet? What if you can’t ever get pregnant?

Is this you? Are you worried because it is taking a while to get pregnant and yet you are ready.

LEARN Consider the different stories and pictures below, listen to a podcast or watch a short video.

THINK Then, to understand more about what causes worry you can explore the different social, psychological and physical causes that can increase worry. In this section you will find questions to ask yourself about each cause to see if it affects you.

DO Once you have explored the causes of your worry then it is time to do something. Go to the ‘Toolkit’ to find a range of different tools to help yourself try and reduce worry.

View the causes of Worry for Fertility

Do you relate to these?

Every month you get your hopes up and you worry – Is it me? Is it something I have done? Is it something I am not doing? What have I done in my life that has caused this? If I could just relax it will happen – but how can I? What if it never happens? Then what???

someecards.com - I tolerate you because my biological clock is ticking.

I just worry I have left it too long!

There is helpful advice everywhere! I am so sick of helpful advice – just get me pregnant already!

Doctors and your family can make you feel so bad. I feel bad enough on my own, I don’t need their help as well.

Causes of worry for Fertility

What happens

Some personalities are more prone to worries. If you are a perfectionist or you like control, then not being able to get pregnant can make you worry that you are failing and/or that you have too little control over your life.

Questions to ask yourself

Is it in my make-up to be a worrier?

How much do I like things to be perfect?

How much control do I like to feel I have over my life?

What happens

Unhelpful thinking can create a cycle of tension and unease. For example before giving a speech you think - “I am going to make a fool of myself”, you sense the tension in your body - then you give your speech and the worry leaves you. If you were to avoid giving the speech your worry is more likely to return or grow bigger the next time around.

Questions to ask yourself

What thoughts trigger feelings of worry?

Are these thoughts distorted or faulty?

What is the evidence to support my thoughts?

What is the worst thing that could happen? How likely is this?

What happens

When you are trying to have a baby, you can worry people are judging you. Are you eating the right things, or getting enough sleep and exercise? People may say things like ‘when the time is right it will happen’. If it doesn’t happen you can feel unsettled and troubled because you think that somehow you are not good enough.

Questions to ask yourself

How much do I worry what others think of me?

Do I worry I might be doing the wrong things?

Do I think I am a failure in people’s eyes because I am not pregnant yet?

What happens

Having roles that give you meaning are important to your mental and emotional health. You might be a best friend, a daughter, a student, a worker. The role you want though is to be a mother, and it is not happening. You can worry that you will never be a mother and question what this will mean to your sense of purpose and identity.

Questions to ask yourself

What roles do I have?

Do I worry about any of the roles I have?

How much do I worry that I may not have the role of ‘mother’?

What happens

When you are trying to get pregnant and it is not happening it is easy to think your body has failed you - it is not doing what it is supposed to. In addition, the effects of fertility treatment on your body can add to this sense of not being able to predict what your body will do. This uncertainty can be troubling.

Questions to ask yourself

How much do I worry about how I look?

How much do I worry about whether my body is failing me?

How much does fertility treatment make me feel my body no longer belongs to me and I can’t predict what it will do next?

What happens

If you experienced abuse, neglect or harm growing up or violence in your close relationships this can cause you to be vulnerable to worry. Any kind of abuse such as emotional, mental or physical can cause you to worry about dangerous or risky situations in different ways than others who have not had these experiences. You may react more strongly to criticism, worry that others do not like or value you and that your thoughts or feelings are not important.

Questions to ask yourself

Has abuse or harm or violence caused me to be more vulnerable to worry?

Social causes →
What happens

Problems with your family can include lots of things. It might be your relationship with your partner has changed with the stress of trying for a family – that all you both focus on is getting pregnant, you are unhappy and don’t feel as connected as you used to be. Other family members may be pregnant, or expect you to be pregnant by now. Parents may be putting pressure on you to make them grandparents. Everyone has their own agenda and you worry that your struggle with fertility is taking a toll on them and your relationship with them.

Questions to ask yourself

Are there family problems that cause me to be stressed and worried?

Have there been changes to my family that I am worried about? If so, what are these changes?

How much has my relationship changed with my:

  • Partner?
  • Parents?
  • Other family members like sisters or brothers, cousins…?
What happens

When you are trying to get pregnant, your relationship with your friends can change depending on what stage they are at in their lives. Some friends will understand what you are going through and be a support, and some will mean well but say all the wrong things making you worry even more. You may not have told your friends so they don’t know what you are going through.

Questions to ask yourself

Do I feel accepted by my friends?

Who accepts or does not accept me?

Which of my friends understand where I am at?

Are my friends at the same or a different stage in their lives to me?

Do my friends mean well but offer unhelpful advice?

What happens

Having problems getting pregnant can be lonely. You don’t tend to talk about your struggles and often your problems are a secret shared between you and your partner. The sense of isolation can increase the intensity of your worries.

Questions to ask yourself

Do I have friends, family or people I trust who can be there for me?

Who do I have that I can talk to if I need to?

Do I feel alone in this struggle?

What happens

You might be worried about the changes that are happening in your life - will you ever have a healthy baby and will you get to be a mother?

You can feel on alert for bad things to happen because you have your own struggles and you worry that something bad might happen.

Questions to ask yourself

Have I experienced any stressful or difficult events recently? If so, what types of stressful experiences have I encountered?

What happens

If you need to have IVF or further assistance like pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) the costs can really mount up. This can come at a time when you have a lot of other expenses - you may be just starting out as a couple and trying to get ahead, or now may not be the ideal time to be having a baby because your finances or jobs are unstable but you are running out of time. There is no doubt worry about money can cause stress.

Questions to ask yourself

Are our expenses manageable?

How much do I worry about money?

Do we need one income or two incomes?

Will we be able to afford the costs of fertility treatment if we need it?

Community causes →
What happens

The community in which you live is important to your mental health. Feeling safe, that there are places to go, ways to get there and things to do can help you to feel connected to your community and that you belong somewhere. Not having a community that you feel safe in or that you belong to can cause you to feel uneasy about where you live.

Questions to ask yourself

How do I feel about the community where I live?

How safe do I feel in my community?

How connected do I feel and do I feel that I belong in my community?

What happens

Work can provide a source of worries particularly when you are also trying to get pregnant and feel unsure about what the future holds. You can worry about:

  • How safe and secure you feel in your job especially if you need to take time off for tests and procedures
  • How important your job is to your finances and sense of self balanced with your desire to be a mother
  • How demanding it is of your time and energy and whether this affects your ability to get pregnant
Questions to ask yourself

Am I worried by my work?

Do I feel secure in my job?

How supported do I feel by my boss and work place to take the time I need to have doctor’s appointments and tests?

Do I feel exhausted by my job?

What things about work make me feel like I can achieve or not achieve there?

Physical causes →
What happens

When you are trying to get pregnant you may feel your hormones are all over the place or if you are having treatment for fertility this can cause hormones to really change and swing up and down. These hormonal swings can make you more sensitive to worry and irritability.

Questions to ask yourself

How much do changing hormones put me on edge and make me feel a sense of worry and unease?

Has treatment for fertility made my hormones swing unpredictably?

What happens

Conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis may have already made you worry about your body and whether you can become pregnant or you may worry whether there is illness you don’t know about which is stopping a pregnancy.

Questions to ask yourself

Have I had any illnesses that have caused me to worry more about me and my ability to get pregnant?

How much do I worry I have an illness I don’t know about that might be stopping me from getting pregnant?

What happens

If you have been pregnant before and had complications or a miscarriage, you are more likely to feel uneasy and worry whether it is possible to get pregnant again.

Questions to ask yourself

Have I had previous problems in a pregnancy that make me more worried now?

What happens

As you grow older you may worry about whether you have left it too long to have a baby.

Questions to ask yourself

How much do I worry about my age and my ability to get pregnant?

What happens

It can be hard to know which comes first, drinking or drug taking - or the worry? It may be that you drink or take drugs to numb the pain of worrying about your ability to get pregnant.

Questions to ask yourself

Was I a worrier before I started drinking alcohol or taking drugs?

Do I drink or take drugs to numb the pain of not being able to get pregnant?

How much am I drinking? Do I feel I drink too much?

How much am I worried about my actions when I drink too much or take drugs?

What happens

Worrying about your fertility can affect your sleep. Lack of quality sleep can make you tired and this affects your ability to think clearly making it easier to worry. Everything seems bigger, worse and more difficult to face when you haven’t had enough sleep.

Questions to ask yourself

How much sleep do I get per night?

Do I get enough sleep so that I feel refreshed?

Is it hard to go to sleep or do I wake in the night and find it hard to go back to sleep?

Is my ability to sleep affected by worry about whether I will ever be able to have a baby?

What happens

A diet with lots of sugary or high content fatty foods along with too little exercise can = more negative moods which can = more worries.

Questions to ask yourself

Do I generally eat a range of healthy foods or do I eat too many sugary or fatty foods?

Do I have the time or energy to eat a healthy diet?

Do I exercise at least 3-4 times per week for more than 30 minutes?

Created on 18/08/2013 | Updated on 24/10/2017
References for this page

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About Jean Hailes

Jean Hailes is Australia’s leading and most trusted women’s health organisation. We believe in physical and emotional health and wellbeing in all its dimensions for all women in Australia throughout their lives.

We offer a range of free resources and easy to understand information on women’s health and wellbeing. Appointments at our specialist women’s health clinics can be made in person (East Melbourne and Clayton, VIC) or across Australia via our Telehealth consultation service. www.jeanhailes.org.au

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