A new study confirms what infertility patients already know – high levels of stress make it harder to conceive. In true which came first the chicken or the egg fashion, the study, run at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and reported this month in Human Reproduction, enrolled 501 trying-to- conceive couples as participants in a prospective cohort study, to determine if stress is a causative factor for infertility or simply a by-product of it.
The couples were followed by the researchers for a period of one year, during which time the women’s stress levels were measured via the collection of saliva. Two biomarkers for stress, cortisol and alpha-amylase, were analyzed. The study’s findings demonstrated a marked decrease in conception among women with the highest levels of alpha-amylase. Those participants experienced double the rate of infertility than the other women in the study. Cortisol was not shown to have any effect. The study adjusted for factors such as lifestyle habits, socioeconomic factors and age.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Courtney D. Lynch, recommends stress-reduction techniques for women trying to have a baby. Differing de-stressors work for different people, but here are several you can try.