If you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ve almost certainly heard someone say something along the lines of “take a vacation, that worked for us!”
The idea that conceiving is easier while on a trip is a fairly common one. We’ve all heard jokes about there being something fertility-boosting in the water in Europe, jabs about “being careful” on your honeymoon, and well-meaning advice from elder relatives. But is there really anything to it? And if so, should all couples who are trying to conceive run out and book ‘baby make-acations’ — or, if you prefer the terminology, ‘conceptionmoons’?
We spoke with fertility expert Dr. Alin Lina Akopians to learn more about this long-held theory…and get some intel on what couples who are trying can do to improve their odds of conceiving.
There may be some truth to it
There’s one thing we can agree on where vacations are concerned: They tend to be way more relaxing than everyday life. According to Dr. Akopians, that can definitely be a benefit where fertility is concerned.
“Stress [can have] an impact on fertility. Usually individuals who are on vacation are not as stressed —and certainly from many reports, we know stress can have an impact on individuals in the way their ovarian functions work,” Dr. Akopians said. “Women who are in high-stress situations may even stop menstruation and as such, have a harder time with fertility. I think the real answer is that couples who are on vacation tend to have a better opportunity in terms of relieving their stress. That sometimes does have a positive impact in getting them pregnant.
But there’s a caveat
While taking a trip may bring down stress levels, stress is far from the only factor that can make it hard for a couple to conceive…and depending on your situation, a visit to a fertility specialist may be a more effective move than a trip to Paris.
“I do feel there are some individuals [who have a hard time accepting] the fact that they need some help. They attribute their troubles with fertility to stress. But I always say if a couple is under the age of 35 and they’ve been trying to get pregnant for 12 months, it’s time to see someone and get help whether they have stressful lives or not. If the couple is above 35 and have tried for six months, that’s a good time to do a basic fertility evaluation.” Women over 38 should try fertility testing after about three months, and younger women who have conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome or endometriosis may want to seek help immediately.
If you’re not at that point…
So if you’ve been trying for a few months — but not long enough to warrant a trip to a reproductive endocrinologist’s office — does planning a vacation in the hopes you may conceive make sense? “I would say that’s a good idea,” Dr. Akopians said. So there you have: An expert just gave you a reason to take a vacation. As if you needed one.
And if you can’t plan a vacation right now?
It’s a bummer, we know — but there are ways you can reduce your stress levels without straying far from home. Dr. Akopians suggested meditation, yoga and acupuncture as at-home stress relievers.
If the baby make-acation move doesn’t work for you
It’s incredibly tough to deal with the disappointment of not getting pregnant month after month. But the good news? Help is out there. “Fertility treatments are so great now,” Dr. Akopians said. “You don’t want to spend too much time concentrating on the stress. It’s a good idea to get help.”
If you’re too stressed before you start trying
As for couples who are about to start trying? Well, they may actually be in the perfect position to kick things off with a fun vacation to reduce those stress levels. Again, yoga, meditation, and acupuncture are other great steps towards reducing your day-to-day stress.
Vacation any time of the month
You know how you tend to feel more relaxed for a few weeks after you get home from an amazing vacation? That principle applies. While you may be thinking you need to work around your fertile zone, Dr. Akopians said planning a trip may be beneficial at any point in your cycle.
But don’t forget this!
“You have to be mindful that nowadays Zika is a thing,” Dr. Akopians said. “More than anything, [couples] should be evaluating where the vacation is.” If you’re trying to get pregnant (or looking to try in the near future) you’ll want to avoid any areas where the virus may be present.
…So there you have it. While a vacation may not be the miraculous solution as far as fertility goes, booking one just may help. And even if it doesn’t pan out immediately….well, at least you squeezed in a fun getaway!
About the expert: Dr. Lina Akopians is a passionate physician driven by her love for medicine, volunteer work, and patient services. Having recently finished her accelerated two-year Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility (REI) fellowship program at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), she has conducted research on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and egg freezing. Dr. Akopians received her Bachelors and Masters in Physiological Science as well as her Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology from UCLA. She subsequently completed her medical training at Albany Medical College in New York then returned to Los Angeles for her OB/GYN Residency program at UCLA. Then she completed her REI Fellowship training at the UCLA/Cedars-Sinai program.