Study finds scientific link between stress, fertility

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It's been long speculated stress could play a role in a woman's inability to get pregnant, but now there's scientific proof.

In the first U.S. study of its kind, researchers discovered it takes stressed-out woman longer to get pregnant and in some case it is a two-fold increase in rate of infertility.

Kaye Standke, a yoga teacher at Blooma prenatal yoga center in Minneapolis, can relate to the findings. She was worried time was running out after her fertility journey stretched seven years.

Finally, she gave birth to a baby girl, Delilah, five weeks ago. Looking back, Standke says stress stood in the way of her ability to conceive. The revelation was hard to admit even for a yoga teacher who practiced slowing down.

"Everybody was saying, 'Just relax, it will happen,' Everybody around you having babies was really difficult at times," she said.

Dr. Courtney Lynch, a reproductive endocrinologist from Ohio State's Wexner Medical, released the study in the Human Reproduction medical journal.

Along with a team of researchers, Lynch followed 400 couples who were trying to conceive for a year. The study found an association between higher levels of stress biomarkers in a woman's saliva and her ability to get pregnant.

It also found that the women with the highest stress levels had a 29 percent decrease in the ability to reproduce, and the risk of infertility doubled.

"Higher levels of stress at the outset when they got started were in fact associated with infertility which is the first time that has been shown," said Lynch. "As you continue to try and conceive and it's been 5 to 6 months and if you are not yet pregnant, maybe it's something you might want to look at in terms of improving your overall lifestyle."

Lynch says proactive steps, like mediation or yoga, can't hurt, and Standke agrees, believing alternative therapies like acupuncture made the difference in her journey.

"It was really an active surrender in saying what's important to me, and it really was about being a mama. I think it was me letting go of all my to-do lists and being busy and then finding time to connect with my husband more," she said.


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