When couples are having trouble conceiving, stress can increase. Whether trying to conceive naturally or going through IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (In vitro fertilization), stress can rear its ugly head and cause problems. According to the American Psychological Association, stress can negatively affect conception. In fact, a 1993 study reported that The Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology article reported that infertile women’s anxiety and depression levels equaled those of women with conditions such as cancer, HIV and chronic pain. This is because the mind-body connection is strong. When we are under stress, our bodies go into a sympathetic state and releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Being in a sympathetic state, or “fight or flight” state, shuts down our reproduction. Think of our primitive ancestors who are “running from a bear.” Digestion, reproduction and other body systems get suppressed so that we use all of our energy to “fight or flight.” This is how our biology works to try to save us. The opposite of the sympathetic response is the parasympathetic response, also known as the “rest and digest” state. It is in this state when are bodies release calming neurotransmitters such as serotonin and we can recuperate and relax. Digestion improves, reproduction improves, and we are relaxed. No one is free of stress, but the human body has an innate wisdom to help overcome it. Conception is not impossible with high stress levels, but chances of conceiving improve with stress reduction. We cannot always change our stressors, but we can change how our bodies respond to stress. It is time to start stress reducing activities. This may include meditation, exercise, Tai Qi, yoga or any other stress reducing activity of your choice.