Stress can increase the risk of heart disease and mental health problems such as depression. Now a new study the journal Human Reproduction suggests that stress while trying to conceive can cause difficulty getting pregnant.
The present study led by Dr. Courtney Denning-Johnson Lynch, director of reproductive epidemiology at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, builds on previous research linking stress to a reduced likelihood of pregnancy. The present study links stress to an increased risk of infertility.
Using data from 501 couples trying to conceive who were enrolled in the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) Study between 2005 and 2009 from two research facilities, one in Michigan and one in Texas, the researchers compared stress levels with time-to-pregnancy (TTP). The women in study were between the ages of 18 and 40 years old. The researchers followed the couples for 12 months.
To assess stress levels, the researchers collected saliva from the female participants for the measurement of cortisol and alpha-amylase, biomarkers of stress.
Of the total women, 401 completed the study. Of the women who completed the study, 347 (87 percent) became pregnant and 54 (13 percent) did not.
Upon analyzing the saliva, the researchers discovered that the women with the highest levels of alpha-amylase had a 29 percent lower chance of becoming pregnant each month compared with women with the lowest levels. Women with the highest stress levels were also more than twice as likely to meet the clinical definition of infertility, defined as not conceiving despite 12 months of regular, unprotected intercourse.
The link between stress and infertility remained even after adjusting for compounding factors such as age, race, income, and the use of alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco while trying to conceive.
In other words, stress can cause difficulty getting pregnant and infertility.
Comments Dr. Lynch, “For the first time, we’ve shown that this effect is potentially clinically meaningful, as it’s associated with a greater than two-fold increased risk of infertility among these women.”
The findings indicate that women who are hoping to conceive should find ways to lower stress levels.
Another recent study found that girls born unexpectedly small or underweight are twice as likely to experience infertility and other fertility issues as adults compared to girls born at a normal weight.
Difficulty getting pregnant could be due to stress: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/274464.php
Preconception stress increases the risk of infertility: results from a couple-based prospective cohort study—the LIFE study: http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/03/06/humrep.deu032.abstract
Reaching Hands: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1422276