Is the female fertility affected by stress? Long suspected to have some dramatic effects on fertility, the impact of psychological stress is now confirmed by a study published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology.
To evaluate the effect of this psychological factor, researchers from the Public Health School in Louisville (USA), in collaboration with Emory University, followed 400 women aged 40 years or less. Every day, these volunteers were asked to rate their stress state on a scale of 1 to 4, and noted in a book information about their menstrual cycles, their sex, the use of contraception, their consumption of alcohol, tobacco and coffee. Urine samples were also collected for 8 cycles on average, 8 months or until they become pregnant.
According to the results, women reporting high levels of stress during the ovulation period – around the 14th day of the cycle – have 40% less chance of conceiving a child than during a period when the stress is less felt . More generally, women exposed to high levels of stress were 45% less likely to get pregnant than the others.
“These results suggest that women wishing to have a child can increase their chances by adopting habits that reduce stress such as exercise, incorporating a stress management program or consulting a health professional,” says Dr. Kira Taylor epidemiologist, responsible for this work.
However, it seems that the level of stress increase during the early periods of pregnancy. Researchers have discovered that the level of stress increases in pregnant women during their first month of pregnancy. Professor Taylor assumes that this increase may be related to two factors: the act of buying a pregnancy test to be performed at home, and the element of surprise on reading the result. the stress can also be the result of hormonal changes induced by the pregnancy itself.
“Many people are skeptical about the role of emotional and psychological factors on fertility. I hope that this work will show to both doctors and the general public that the psychological health and well-being of women are as important as the other factors impacting fertility as smoking, alcohol consumption or obesity when it is to conceive a child, “says the epidemiologist. However, stress is not the sole responsible for the difficulty encountered by some couples to have a child; exposure to multiple environmental factors or physiological seems to be more harmful to fertility.