Too Much Stress Can Lead to Infertility, Study Finds

A new study suggests women with high levels of stress enzyme have lower chance of becoming pregnant than those with low levels.


The new findings, published in the journal Human Reproduction, suggest that stress could double the chances of infertility.

From The Guardian:

Scientists measured levels of alpha-amylase, an enzyme in saliva that provides a biological indicator of stress. Women with high levels of the biomarker were 29% less likely to get pregnant each month than those with low levels, the researchers found.

The team tracked 373 American women aged 18 to 40 who were free from known fertility problems and had just started trying to conceive. Their progress was followed over a period of 12 months, or until they became pregnant.

Study leader Dr Courtney Denning-Johnson Lynch, from Ohio State University, urged women having difficulty getting pregnant to consider stress-managing techniques like meditation and yoga. (But she also cautions that stress is not the only factor involved in fertility problems and may only play a minor role.)

How can mindfulness help with stressors around pregnancy? In Mindful’s August issue, we published a feature on the Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting program founded by Nancy Bardacke at the University of California-San Francisco’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. On stress and pregnancy, Bardacke says mindfulness “is the best tool I know” for navigating enormous life transitions. Bardacke’s research shows mindfulness practice decreases depression and anxiety during pregnancy and boosts positive emotions.