Summary: Researchers report highly stressed women are 40 percent less likely to conceive during their ovulation window.
Source: University of Louisville.
UofL study finds highly-stressed women 40-percent less likely to conceive during ovulation window.
What many have long suspected, has been scientifically confirmed – women’s high stress reduces their probability of conception.
University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences epidemiologist Kira Taylor, Ph.D., and her UofL and Emory University colleagues, found that women who reported feeling more stressed during their ovulatory window were approximately 40-percent less likely to conceive during that month than other less stressful months. Similarly, women who generally reported feeling more stressed than other women, were about 45-percent less likely to conceive. The results of the study recently published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology.
In the study, 400 women 40-years-old and younger who were sexually active recorded their daily stress levels measured on a scale from one to four (low to high). The diaries also contained information regarding menstruation, intercourse, contraception, alcohol, caffeine and smoking. Urine samples also were collected throughout the study, and women were followed until they became pregnant or until the study ended, for an average of eight menstrual cycles.
Researchers calculated mean stress levels during each phase of the menstrual cycle, with day 14 as the estimated time of ovulation. They found the negative effect of stress on fertility was only observed during the ovulatory window, and was true after adjustments for other factors like age, body mass index, alcohol use and frequency of intercourse.
“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.”
The study also found that women who did conceive experienced an increase in stress at the end of the month in which they became pregnant. Taylor hypothesizes this could be the result of two factors: women became stressed after taking a home pregnancy test and learning they were pregnant, and/or most likely the increased stress was the result of changes in hormone levels caused by pregnancy itself.
“Some individuals are skeptical that emotional and psychological attributes may be instrumental in affecting fertility,” Taylor said. “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.”
About this psychology research article
Source: Julie Heflin – University of Louisville Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain. Original Research:Abstract for “The impact of periconceptional maternal stress on fecundability” by Shekufe Akhter, Michele Marcus, Rich A. Kerber, Maiying Kong, and Kira C. Taylor in Annals of Epidemiology. Published online August 21 2016 doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2016.07.015
Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]University of Louisville “Stress Negatively Affects Conception Changes.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 12 September 2016. <https://neurosciencenews.com/stress-conception-psychology-5021/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]University of Louisville (2016, September 12). Stress Negatively Affects Conception Changes. NeuroscienceNew. Retrieved September 12, 2016 from https://neurosciencenews.com/stress-conception-psychology-5021/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]University of Louisville “Stress Negatively Affects Conception Changes.” https://neurosciencenews.com/stress-conception-psychology-5021/ (accessed September 12, 2016).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
The impact of periconceptional maternal stress on fecundability
Purpose To examine the association between periconceptional self-reported stress levels and fecundability in women.
Methods Daily stress was reported on a scale from 1 to 4 (lowest to highest) among 400 women who completed daily diaries including data on lifestyle and behavioral factors, menstrual characteristics, contraceptive use, and intercourse for up to 20 cycles or until pregnancy. Discrete survival analysis was used to estimate the associations between self-reported stress during specific windows of the menstrual cycle and fecundability (cycles at risk until pregnancy), adjusting for potential confounders.
Results One hundred thirty-nine women became pregnant. During the follicular phase, there was a 46% reduction in fecundability for a 1-unit increase in self-reported stress during the estimated ovulatory window (fecundability odds ratio [FOR] = 0.54; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.35–0.84) and an attenuated trend for the preovulatory window (FOR = 0.73; 95% CI 0.48–1.10). During the luteal phase, higher stress was associated with increased probability of conception (FOR = 1.63, 95% CI 1.07–2.50), possibly due to reverse causality.
Conclusions Higher stress during the ovulatory window may reduce probability of conception; however, once conception occurs, changes in the hormonal milieu and/or knowledge of the pregnancy may result in increased stress. These findings reinforce the need for encouraging stress management techniques in the aspiring and expecting mother.
“The impact of periconceptional maternal stress on fecundability” by Shekufe Akhter, Michele Marcus, Rich A. Kerber, Maiying Kong, and Kira C. Taylor in Annals of Epidemiology. Published online August 21 2016 doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2016.07.015