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Highly-Stressed Women 40% Less Likely to Conceive

Posted by Dr Fertility on

stress-impact-fertility-getting-pregnantA new study further reinforces the detrimental effect that stress can have on fertility. The study, carried out by the University of Louisville and Emory University, observed 400 women aged 40 and below to see how their levels of stress affected their likelihood of successful conception.


The participants were asked to record their daily stress levels along with information on their menstruation, intercourse, contraception, alcohol, caffeine and smoking habits. The study, published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology, tracked both mental and physical factors as well as analysed urine samples collected throughout the eight menstrual cycle testing period.


The results revealed that the women who reported feeling more stressed during their ovulatory window were around 40% less likely to conceive during that month than during other, less stressful months. Furthermore, those women who generally felt more stressed compared to the sample group, 45% were less likely to conceive overall.


This negative impact of stress on fertility continued to be a significant factor even after adjustments for other potential influences such as age, body mass index, alcohol use and frequency of intercourse.


Based on these findings, the researchers say their study reinforces the idea that perceived stress can have a negative impact on fertility. This highlights the need for women trying to get pregnant to find ways to manage their stress levels. Some women take advantage of stress management programmes, whilst others find activities such as yoga, pilates, meditation, and general exercise can really help. Women trying to conceive seeking guidance on this issue may also benefit from speaking to a health professional. 


Study leader Dr Kira Taylor, a University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences epidemiologist, said: "I hope the results of this study serve a wake-up call for both physicians and the general public that psychological health and wellbeing is just as important as other more commonly accepted risk factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol or obesity when trying to conceive."



  1. Akhter, M. Marcus, R.A. Kerber, M. Kong, K.C. Taylor. The Impact of Periconceptional Maternal Stress on FecundabilityAnnals of Epidemiology, 2016; DOI:10.1016/j.annepidem.2016.07.015


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