You spent years — maybe decades — trying to prevent pregnancy. But then when you finally started trying to conceive, it wasn’t as easy as you thought. Now what? To start with, you aren’t alone. More than six million women in the US are affected by infertility. If you’re one of the many, you have options — such as assisted reproductive technology (ART). But that’s not all: Making some lifestyle changes may increase your chances of conception, whether you’re using ART or not. Unless the doctor has given you a definitive answer, check out what naturopathic physician Jennifer Mercier, PhD suggests could be the top reasons you’re having trouble getting pregnant right now.

A frustrated woman looks at her phone

1. Stress: Whether you have work-related issues, are dealing with family drama, or are just anxious about trying to conceive, none of it is helping you to get pregnant. A 2016 study from the University of Louisville found that women who experienced more stress during their ovulation window had a 40 percent lower chance of conceiving. And this is far from the only piece of research backing up the stress/conception (or lack of conception) connection. To combat the tension that may be sabotaging your would-be pregnancy, Dr. Mercier recommends that people who are trying to conceive (TTC) find a workable outlet that they enjoy. This could include yoga, meditation, or just about anything else that alleviates stress.

2. Unhealthy Food Choices: It’s no big secret that healthy eating is mandatory for a healthy pregnancy. But not only do you need to make healthy food choices when you’re pregnant — you also need to start before you conceive. Dr. Mercier notes that fast food choices, such as hamburgers or French fries, may decrease your chances of getting pregnant. Instead of indulging in these greasy, nutrient-light options, she suggests organic, whole foods.

3. Inactivity: The couch is not your friend right now. There’s a major difference between meditating until you de-stress and zoning out for hours in front of the TV. No one is saying you need to start training for a marathon just to conceive. But getting up, out, and active may make it easier.

A woman listens to headphones while taking a bubble bath

4. Not Focusing Enough on Self-Care: Putting your S.O., sister, mother, boss, or other friends and family first all the time means a couple of things. One: It may mean that you’re a self-sacrificing, caring, incredibly thoughtful person. And two: It may mean that you put everyone’s needs above your own, to your detriment. Right now you need to look out for number one. And that means yourself. Dr. Mercier suggests this is a great time to learn how to say no. She also notes that getting a massage or treating yourself to a bubble bath can help too.

5. Not Advocating: That is, not advocating for yourself. Even though it’s important to trust the medical pros, Dr. Mercier recommends knowing your own body and taking a proactive approach when it comes to the conception process. Be your own advocate to ensure that you’re getting the care and treatment you want and deserve.

6. Limiting Your Options: There isn’t just one “fertility treatment” available. Your options include a buffet of baby-making methods, depending on your individual situation. Dr. Mercier’s method (Mercier Therapy) uses soft tissue manipulation combined with fertility counseling to help women who are struggling with infertility, and this obviously isn’t the only technique that can help. If you’re limiting your options to one type of ART treatment or aren’t fully investigating your choices, you may be missing out on something that could truly help you conceive.

Tweet us your best tips for beating the TTC stress @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)