Stress is a common feature of modern life, but what many don’t realise is its potential impact on our reproductive health. Stress and fertility share a complex relationship that can significantly influence a persons ability to conceive.

When stress becomes chronic or overwhelming, it can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones responsible for regulating the reproductive system. High levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, can interfere with ovulation in women and sperm production in men, ultimately impacting fertility, but also affecting libido, sexual function, and overall reproductive health. While occasional stress is a normal part of life, managing stress effectively through relaxation techniques, mindfulness practices, and seeking support when needed can help mitigate its negative effects on fertility.

By understanding the connection between stress and fertility, individuals and couples can take proactive steps to optimise their chances of conceiving and embark on their journey to parenthood with confidence..

Couple frustrated in bed due to stigma around infertility

How can stress affect fertility?

Long-term stress can:

  • disrupt your ovulation cycle, making it harder to pinpoint your most fertile days
  • affect your relationship with your partner, resulting in a loss of sex drive
  • affect sperm production
  • affect egg quality
  • reduce blood flow to the reproductive organs
  • lead to turning to alcohol, smoking or eating more fatty or processed foods, which can have a negative affect on conception, pregnancy and in some cases the health of your unborn child

The good news is that making positive changes to your lifestyle can help to reduce stress and also increase your chances of conceiving naturally or with assisted conception.

The following ways are recommended to help to reduce your stress levels:


When we’re stressed or anxious, talking to someone we trust about our fears and worries can provide release, either by working through solutions together, or just through the process of off-loading.

By talking to our partner, we may find that they are having similar concerns, doubts or worries. It can also help to release any built-up tension and avoids second guessing what they ‘might’ be thinking or feeling.

When others are made aware of our feelings, they are in a better place to understand our needs too.

By communicating openly with health professionals, the fertility specialist, GP or fertility counsellor, it will enable them to answer your questions or provide support.

Improve your diet

Having a healthy diet means you are less likely to experience mood swings and energy dips.

Read our Nutrition and Diet for Fertility blog for in depth detail on how to create a fertility diet that works for you and your partner.

Mixed group of people practising yoga

Try Relaxation Techniques

There’s a wide range of relaxation techniques that you can try online or in-person, techniques that are commonly believed to lower stress levels. These include meditation, aromatherapy, yoga and more.

Here are 5 examples of techniques you can try:

Deep Breathing Exercises

Practice deep breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing or the 4-7-8 technique to calm the nervous system and reduce stress levels. Focus on inhaling deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to expand, and exhaling slowly through your mouth.


Dedicate time each day to meditation to cultivate mindfulness and promote relaxation. Find a quiet space, close your eyes, and focus on your breath or a calming mantra. Guided meditation apps or classes can also be helpful for beginners.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

PMR involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups throughout the body, promoting physical and mental relaxation. Start by tensing a muscle group for a few seconds, then release the tension while focusing on the sensation of relaxation.


Engage in gentle yoga practices specifically designed to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Yoga combines physical postures, breathwork, and mindfulness techniques to calm the mind and soothe the body. Look for fertility-focused yoga classes or videos online.


Treat yourself to a soothing massage to release muscle tension, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. Choose from various massage techniques such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, or aromatherapy massage, depending on your preferences and needs.

Watch our yoga and meditation videos for fertility.


Exercise is a great natural stress reliever, because it pumps up your endorphins which elevate your mood. It increases your general health and well-being too, gives you something else to focus on and helps you to sleep afterwards.

Man sleeping in a bed

Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep is a powerful stress reducer. It calms our nervous system, helps us to make more rational choices and improves our mood and concentration. Getting enough sleep is crucial for fertility because it plays a vital role in regulating hormones, optimising reproductive function, and supporting overall health.

Getting adequate sleep is essential for fertility and plays a pivotal role in regulating the production of key hormones crucial for reproductive health. Hormones such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen, and progesterone are intricately involved in the reproductive process. Disrupted sleep patterns or insufficient sleep can lead to hormone imbalances, potentially affecting ovulation in women and sperm production in men.

Consistent sleep patterns contribute to the regularity and predictability of the menstrual cycle, which is essential for fertility. Irregular menstrual cycles can make it more challenging to identify fertile days and optimize timing for conception.

In Women

Quality sleep is associated with improved egg quality. Adequate rest allows the body to repair and regenerate cells, including oocytes (eggs), which can positively impact fertility outcomes.

For Men

Sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal sperm production and quality. Sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality may lead to decreased sperm count, motility, and morphology, reducing the likelihood of successful conception.

Quality sleep helps reduce stress levels by allowing the body and mind to rest and recover. Chronic stress can disrupt hormone balance and interfere with reproductive function, making it more difficult to conceive.

Sleep is also essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, a strong immune system protects against infections and inflammation, which can negatively impact fertility and pregnancy outcomes.

It’s important to mention to your GP if you are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, as they can offer advice and support.