Stress tied to infertility

Gonzalez couple

Stress is tied to increased risk of heart disease and conditions like depression, but new research now suggests stress may be a reason women trying to conceive experience difficulty getting pregnant. The new study, led by Dr. Courtney Denning-Johnson Lynch expands her earlier work which found a link between high levels of stress and reduced likelihood of pregnancy. This study shows stress is also tied to infertility.

Tracked over 500 couples as they tried to conceive

The team looked at data on 501 couples trying to conceive between 2005 and 2009 at to different fertility centers in the US. The couples were tracked for 12 months as they tried to conceive. Female participants gave saliva samples periodically to researchers. They were able to measure levels of cortisol and alpha-amylase, known biomarkers for stress, in the samples. During the 12months, 347 women became pregnant while 54 did not.

Higher levels of stress hormones found in those who did not conceive

As the data was analyzed, they found that women with the highest levels of alpha-amylase had a 29% lower chance of becoming pregnant each month compared to women with the lowest levels. Women with the highest levels were more than twice as likely to be infertile, defined by not achieving pregnancy after 12 months of trying.

Twice as likely to be infertile

“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,” said Dr. Lynch. She hopes the study will encourage women to find ways of dealing with stress in order to reduce it and live a healthier life. Yoga and meditation can help, but couple should not blame themselves if they are unable to conceive. Stress is only one of many possible reasons why infertility may exist.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Human Reproduction
Photo by Angelo Gonzalez at


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