A new study reveals that women with high-levels of stress hormones were more likely to fail to conceive within 12 months of trying. The study tracked 373 American women aged 18-40 who had no known fertility problems for 12 months (or until they became pregnant). The researchers measured levels of alpha-amylase, an enzyme found in saliva that is a biological indicator of stress.
The research found that those with high levels of alpha-amylase were 29% less likely to conceive when compared to those with low levels. The women with high levels of stress were also more than twice as likely to be declared infertile.
A link between stress and infertility has been suggested before, however this is the first time a clinical study has backed up the hypothesis. Many women find that when they actually stop trying to get pregnant, the anxiety is reduced and only then do they fall pregnant.
Dr Courtney Denning-Johnson Lynch is the study leader, from Ohio State University in the US and said the following:
“We have demonstrated that women with high levels stress biomarkers have a lower probability of becoming pregnant, compared to women with low levels of this biomarker.
“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.”
Although Dr Lynch pointed out that stress is not the only factor involved in difficulties conceiving, it is advised that those finding it hard to fall pregnant consider stress relieving techniques such as yoga and meditation.
Women who are struggling to get pregnant should see their doctor to rule out any physical causes, and also look to find ways of reducing stress levels.