Preconception Stress Increases Risk of Infertility
Adapted from a study by C. D. Lynch from Ohio State University College of Medicine, published in May 2014 issue of Human Reproduction. This study examines the relationship between the level of stress in women and the length of time it took to conceive.
Study Question: Are women’s stress levels associated with infertility?
What Is Known Already: Data suggest that stress and reproduction are interrelated.
Study Design: In 2005–2009, 501 couples were studied at two research sites (Michigan and Texas). Couples were followed for up to 12 months as they tried to conceive and through pregnancy if it occurred.
Methods: Enrolled women collected saliva the morning following enrollment and then again the morning following the onset of their next menstrual period for the measurement of cortisol and alpha-amylase (biomarkers of stress).
Main Results: After adjustment for female age, race, income, and use of alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes while trying to conceive, women in the upper third of alpha-amylase results exhibited a 29% reduction in the probability of pregnancy compared with women in the lowest third. This reduction in fertility translated into a more than two-fold increase in the risk of infertility among these women. In contrast, the study found no association between salivary cortisol and the probability of pregnancy.
Wider Implications of the Findings: This is the first US study to demonstrate an association between salivary stress biomarkers and the length of time to conception and the first in the world to observe an association with infertility.
Summary Answer: Higher levels of stress as measured by salivary alpha-amylase are associated with an increased risk of infertility.
The results of this study again underscore the importance of minimizing stress factors when trying to conceive.
You may wish to consider counseling by a Marriage & Family therapist, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist. This could be a single session or could take place throughout your treatment and beyond. If you do not have a counselor, please see a list of therapists that specialize in infertility, and most of whom have previously worked with Bay IVF patients.