New Study Links Stress And Infertility

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano
2:30 pm
05/02/14

Photo Courtesy of James Kicinski-McCoy

“Once you relax and stop thinking about it, that’s when it’s going to happen.” Yup, it’s one of the most cliché (and possibly annoying) things a woman struggling to get pregnant can hear. But now, for the first time, it seems there’s some medical data to back up that good-intentioned piece of advice. 

According to a new study out of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, higher levels of stress are associated with an increased risk of infertility and a longer TTP (time to get pregnant).

“When I turned 30, all of a sudden I noticed my friends having problems getting pregnant and this was concerning to me,” the lead author of the study, Courtney D. Lynch, PhD MPH, tells Mother. “There were no specific data out there linking stress and infertility and I wasn’t entirely sure that we were going to find the outcome that we did.”

The study involved 401 women trying to get pregnant over a one year period. After collecting saliva samples from the women throughout the study, researchers saw a more than doubling in infertility among women that showed high levels of a biomarker of stress (namely, alpha-amylase) in their saliva. 

Additionally, they found stress can make it “take 29% longer to get pregnant,” says Lynch. “The effect of stress becomes more pronounced over time. For women who have been trying to get pregnant for 5-6 months without success, stress seems to be an issue.”

While Lynch is currently looking for funding for a new study to see if stress reduction techniques will help women get pregnant faster, the advice coming from this study is simple enough: Try to chill out.  

“Consider doing things that have been shown to reduce stress,” says Lynch. “Like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Even something as simple as getting 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise daily.”

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