When you decide to try to get pregnant, it’s a great time to start preparing your body to conceive and carry a healthy baby. But taking care of yourself isn’t all about physical health. For some, the journey of getting pregnant can take time (and can potentially feel stressful and frustrating), so focusing on your mental and emotional health is super important too!
Can Mental Health Conditions Affect My Chances of Getting Pregnant?
They can. But at the same time…they might not. As with so many things in regard to fertility and conception, the truth is that it’s different for every woman. However, it’s true that there are a lot of different factors that can affect the regularity of your periods and menstrual cycle (and therefore getting pregnant) including your mental health.
Studies show that certain mental health disorders such as anxiety disorder, clinical depression, bipolar disorder and eating disorders are linked to irregular or shortened periods. Another culprit of irregular periods? Stress. Research shows that high levels of long-term (or chronic) stress can also contribute to irregular periods, as it affects the part of your brain that controls reproduction.
Short or irregular periods can make it difficult to track your cycle and pinpoint when your body ovulates, which can therefore make it harder for you and your partner to know when to try to conceive.
Should I Continue Taking Medication for My Mental Health Condition While Trying to Get Pregnant?
This is an important conversation you’ll need to have with your provider. The truth of the matter is that every person’s situation is different. While some medicines (such as certain antidepressants) could make it difficult for you to get pregnant, the benefits of taking them for your mental health may outweigh the risks of stopping your medicine. Whatever path you and your provider decide to take, do not stop taking a medication without your provider’s approval. They will advise you how to stop your medication in the healthiest way, or even switch you to a medication that is safer for pregnant mamas and their growing babies.
When you decide to try to get pregnant, one of the first things you should do is to schedule a pre-pregnancy checkup with your provider. During this appointment, you and your provider will discuss your medical history and make a plan on how to best manage your mental health—all while encouraging conception and a healthy pregnancy.
If you’re trying to get pregnant and feeling stressed or worried about your chances of conceiving, the truth is that this has the potential to negatively impact your mental health. It’s important to keep in touch with your provider, therapist and your partner (or any support person) about your feelings throughout the process. Taking good care of your mental health is one of the most important things you can do as you head into motherhood (and beyond).