It’s no mystery that stress can have a serious impact on health. Now, a new report shows that suffering long-term stress can seriously impact a woman’s fertility, perhaps making it very difficult for her to conceive.
That’s the finding of the Ohio State University researchers responsible for a four-year study that involved more than four hundred couples trying to get pregnant. After studying the couples for a twelve-month period, the researchers found that the couples who conceived tended to be feeling less stressed-out by their personal and professional lives.
“When we get to couples starting to have problems, stress levels really seem to differ from those who get pregnant,” noted Ohio State University assistant professor of epidemiology Courtney Lynch.
The study, which was recently published in the journal Human Reproduction, involved collecting saliva samples from women. This allowed researchers to study biomarker salivary alpha-amylase, which physicians often refer to as the “fight or flight” system.
Fight or flight is part of the stress adaptation process. In short bursts it won’t have a serious impact on one’s health. But Lynch says the system can present problems if it never shuts down.
“If you’re experiencing chronic stress, lots and lots of acute stress, that ‘fight or flight’ never turns off,” Lynch said.
The result: women experiencing fight or flight experienced a 29 per cent reduction in their ability to conceive.
Lynch says this means any couple having trouble getting pregnant should evaluate their stress levels.
“If you’ve tried [to get pregnant] for six months the key thing to recommend would be to take a look at your stress level and think about taking up some sort of stress-reduction activity, such as yoga, exercising more, mindfulness or meditation.”