causes of not getting pregnant

Seven Unexpected Causes Behind Why You're Not Conceiving

If you're having difficulty getting pregnant, you may want to consider the following factors and if they're contributing to your TTC struggles.
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While it's true that not all fertility concerns can be easily remedied, such as genetics or reproductive conditions like PCOS, some difficulties in conceiving can be improved by lifestyle changes. 

Things like diet, stress and smoking can all impact your chances of conceiving, sometimes working to boost fertility. At the very least, major or minor lifestyle shifts might help prevent fertility from worsening. 

If you're having difficulty getting pregnant, you may want to consider the following factors and if they're contributing to your TTC struggles.

Unexpected Reasons Why You May Not Be Getting Pregnant

1. Your Timing Might Be Off 

You can get pregnant from having sex once, but it's a misconception that getting pregnant is that simple. For most couples, timing intercourse is key. The only way to conceive is if you have intercourse around the time an egg is released, called ovulation. When a woman ovulates, the egg lives for fewer than twenty-four hours. Comparatively, sperm can live three to five days. Therefore, it's ideal to have sperm waiting to meet the egg or introduce sperm as soon as ovulation occurs. 

Whether you're having lots of intercourse or only opting for a few key times, ensure the days you do "do the deed" are timed to optimize conception. 

2. Your Bodyweight Isn't Fertility-Friendly 

Your body weight may be affecting your fertility. Having a too-high or low weight can negatively impact your chances of getting pregnant. One study found that infertility risks for those women considered obese can increase by 78%. If both you and your partner are obese, it could take almost 59% longer for you to get pregnant than couples who are both within a healthy weight range. 

Similarly, being underweight can negatively affect your chances. Low weight can play a role in hormone production, namely estrogen. With too little estrogen, your cycles can be thrown off. Some women with very low body weights may cease menstruating entirely, a condition known as amenorrhea. Pregnancy may be nearly impossible if your body weight is too low for ovulation.  

stressed woman

3. You're Super Stressed Out 

It can be a vicious cycle. You're stressed about getting pregnant, then when it doesn't happen, you're even more stressed, only to find out that stress can negatively impact your fertility. Now you're stressed about being stressed! 

The solution? Have plenty of coping strategies to lower your stress levels. Some stress-reducing activities can include: 

  • Going for a walk

  • Meditation

  • Yoga

  • Positive self-talk

  • Journaling

  • Reading a book

There's no conclusive link yet established between stress and fertility. Still, experts do know that too much stress, in general, is bad for your health. We also know that when you're not getting pregnant as quickly as you hoped, it can cause stress and anxiety. Try to give yourself grace and embrace the process! 

4. Your Diet Could Be Improved 

Your body needs to feel nourished and balanced before welcoming a baby. Low levels of certain nutrients can adversely affect hormones, impacting ovulation and fertility. A well-rounded diet with healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains can help boost your nutrient stores. You may also consider a supplement if you feel that your diet is lacking. Various vitamins and minerals in foods and herbal supplements can help support male and female fertility. Such as: 

  • CoQ10

  • Vitamin E

  • Maca

  • Shatavari

  • Ashwagandha 

Eliminating refined sugars and unhealthy fats might further boost your fertility. One study found that having these processed foods in your diet can decrease fertility.

5. You're Workout Obsessed

Exercising too much can impact your weight and your stress levels. Physical activity is wonderful, but you can have too much of a good thing. High-intensity exercises greatly increase your heart rate and often make it difficult to talk or breathe. 

You don't need to avoid your HIIT workouts, but you should be mindful of how long and how frequently you engage in rigorous exercise. Exercising intensely for long periods has been shown to adversely affect male fertility and female fertility, particularly ovulation and implantation. Instead, aim for moderate activity for 150 minutes each week. 

6.You Have Unhealthy Habits 

Smoking and alcohol consumption aren't helpful for couples TTC. Smoking has been found to decrease fertility in a few ways, such as:  

  • Interrupting hormone production

  • Increasing the risk of infertility

  • Harming the reproductive system of females and males (especially sperm DNA)

Quitting smoking may help boost your chances of getting pregnant. Similarly, too much alcohol consumption can impair fertility. Moderate to heavy drinking can affect a woman's ovulation menstrual cycle. In men, it may lead to decreased sperm quantity and quality. Furthermore, as alcohol should be avoided entirely when pregnant, reducing your intake when TTC can prove to be very beneficial. 

7. Your Sleep Schedule is Unbalanced 

Sleep and your circadian rhythm play an important role in bodily functions like hormone production. It's been found that women who work odd schedules outside the 9-5 hours may suffer from decreased fertility. Getting pregnant is still possible if you tend to work night shifts or long hours. Make sure you prioritize sleep in addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle to keep your body balanced and happy.

The Bottom Line

The causes above may be impacting your fertility. However, you could also have an underlying condition, like endometriosis, affecting your chances of trying to conceive. Lifestyle changes and supplements certainly can improve your overall health and mental wellness, in turn boosting fertility. 

Still, it's important to consult with your doctor if you're having trouble conceiving. Speaking with your healthcare provider about your concerns can provide you with peace of mind and give you the next steps for your fertility journey.