Trouble Getting Pregnant? Stop Stressing, Study Suggests

Stressed out woman

Studies have just discovered that stressed women may find it more difficult to get pregnant. This study used biochemical markers to determine the amount (and type) of stress and its affects on fertility.

Researchers from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development in Rockville, Maryland worked with scientists at both the University of Oxford and Ohio State University analyzing information gathered from 374 women. These women reside around Oxford, England and were all trying to get pregnant.

All women were asked to complete questions about their lifestyle. The women also documented their sexual activity and information about their reproductive cycle for six months, until they became pregnant, or until they gave up trying.

274 of the women also submitted urine samples at least monthly, allowing researchers to determine hormone fluctuations and pinpoint their ovulation cycle (when a woman can conceive). Also, saliva samples were provided on the sixth day of every woman’s menstruation cycle to collect data on stress levels based on the chemicals cortisol and alpha-amylase.

During this study, 64 percent, of the 274, of women who submitted samples of urine and saliva did become pregnant. However, Germain M. Buck Louis of NICHD reported “stress significantly reduced the probability of conception each day during their fertile window.”

Researchers were able to link saliva levels containing high alpha-amylase, but not high cortisol, with diminished fertility. The link to stress and pregnancy troubles held true even while evaluating additional factors like alcohol use, age, and obesity.

One interesting question posed by researchers was whether or not stress levels increase if a couple is attempting, but failing to become pregnant. Also, how does stress (either before or during pregnancy) affect the potential child gender?

Regardless, women should realize that most who are attempting to become pregnant will eventually succeed. Unfortunately, stress does negatively affect the chances somewhat.