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Too stressed out? It may be impacting your fertility

A woman inspecting a pregnancy test.
A woman inspecting a pregnancy test.
Jason Coleman via Flickr Creative Commons

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Chronic stress isn't good for many aspects of human health, but science now shows that it may also impact a woman's ability to get pregnant. A new study published in the journal Human Reproduction found a link between the amount of stress women are under and their ability to get pregnant. 

The study followed 400 women and tested their saliva for the stress indicator 'alpha-amylase'. Researchers found that women with the highest levels of the indicator were 29% less likely to get pregnant than women with the lowest levels of stress. Women with the highest levels were also more than twice as likely to not get pregnant after a full year of trying.

Reducing stress is not going to solve traditional problems of infertility such as blocked tubes, poor sperm quality or ovulation problems, but the research indicates that women could benefit from stress reduction techniques such as meditation or getting more exercise. Are some women more prone to stress? Does the study separate actual stress from how women handle stressful situations? How does stress level actually impact fertility?


Courtney Denning-Johnson Lynch, Ph.D., director of reproductive epidemiology at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and the lead author of the paper published in “Human Reproduction” journal

Dr. Ingrid Rodi, M.D. Clinical Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at UCLA School of Medicine