Life can be a handful (or two). At some point in our lives, the effects of stress will get the best of us. Sometimes stress comes in the form of a bright red pimple the night before you have to deliver a major presentation (it’s happened many times for this guy!), and at other times, stress can lead to disabling panic attacks. In either case, excess stress isn’t good for the body, so the results of this study shouldn’t be a shocker. According to new research from the University of Louisville and Emory University, scientists have found that higher stress levels are linked to a 40-percent less chance of conception. The results were published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology.
The researchers gathered information about stress levels, contraception, alcohol, caffeine consumption, intercourse, smoking and menstruation from 400 women aged 40-years-old and younger. Urine samples were collected during each menstrual cycle and the women were followed for the duration of the study (or until pregnancy occurred).
According to University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences epidemiologist Kira Taylor, Ph.D., and her Emory University colleagues, fertility is indeed negatively affected by stress. The study found that during the ovulatory window, women who were experiencing higher levels of stress were 40-percent less likely to conceive.
“These findings add more evidence to a very limited body of research investigating whether perceived stress can affect fertility,” Taylor said. “The results imply that women who wish to conceive may increase their chances by taking active steps towards stress reduction such as exercising, enrolling in a stress management program or talking to a health professional.”
Women who did conceive were found to have elevated stress levels at the end of the month. The researchers think that stress levels may jump after a positive pregnancy test, and/or hormonal changes induced by conception.
“Some individuals are skeptical that emotional and psychological attributes may be instrumental in affecting fertility,” Taylor mentioned. “I hope the results of this study serve a wake-up call for both physicians and the general public that psychological health and well-being is just as important as other more commonly accepted risk factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or obesity when trying to conceive.”