Life Mothers & Babies

Monday 22 September 2014

Women under stress 'have higher risk of being infertile'

Steve Connor

Published 24/03/2014 | 02:30

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Women who are more relaxed find it easier to get pregnant
Women who are more relaxed find it easier to get pregnant

WOMEN under stress find it harder to become pregnant compared with women who are more relaxed.

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And stressed women also have higher chances of becoming infertile, according to scientists who suggest that yoga or meditation could help would-be mothers.

Scientists found that women with the highest levels of a recognised stress biomarker in their bodies were almost 30pc less likely to become pregnant each month, compared with those with the lowest levels of the same stress biomarker.

The researchers also discovered women in the highest stress category were more than twice as likely to meet the clinical definition of infertility, compared to others in the lowest stress group – the first time that stress has been linked with infertility in this way. The study, published in the journal 'Human Reproduction', involved 373 American women between 18 and 40 whose stress levels were monitored at the start of a 12-month period when they attempted to get pregnant.

The scientists measured two stress biomarkers in the women's saliva – the enzyme alpha-amylase and the "stress" hormone cortisol – and monitored the time it took for each to become pregnant.

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There was no significant link between cortisol and how quickly a woman became pregnant, but the researchers found that the highest one-third of the women in terms of salivary amylase were 29pc less likely to get pregnant each month.

Germaine Buck Louis, of the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said: "Eliminating stressors before trying to become pregnant might shorten the time couples need to become pregnant compared to ignoring it. The good news is that women are likely to know which stress-reduction strategy works best for them, since a one-size-fits-all solution is not likely."

Dr Courtney Lynch, of Ohio State University College of Medicine said: "This is now the second study in which we have shown that women with high levels of the stress biomarker salivary alpha-amylase 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."

However, she emphasised that stress was not the only or the most important factor that can affect fertility. (© Independent News Service)

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