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Research examines link between stress, infertility

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Source: CVDaily Feed
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SALT LAKE CITY – More than 6 percent of married women struggle with infertility, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Now, for the first time, researchers have data that link stress to a woman’s inability to become pregnant.

The study finds that women with high levels of a biological indicator of stress are 29 percent less likely to get pregnant than women with the lowest levels.

“I can’t tell you today that if you participate in stress reduction, that’s going to help you get pregnant faster,” says researcher Courtney D. Lynch, director of reproductive epidemiology at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

“But what I can tell you is that it will improve your health status – and one of the major things we’re trying to do in obstetrics these days is raise awareness that many pregnancy complications can be linked back to maternal health, pre-conception.”

Lynch says the research results should encourage women of childbearing age to consider managing their stress rather than ignoring it as a factor when they are trying to conceive.

She says there are easy ways to incorporate stress reduction into a person’s lifestyle that are known to be beneficial for other facets of their health, such as cardiovascular disease.

“Getting the recommended 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day has been shown to decrease stress levels,” Lynch points out. “Certainly meditation and mindfulness, or yoga and acupuncture.

“There are many options right now that we think are potentially useful in a fertility context.”

Lynch stresses couples facing fertility problems shouldn’t blame themselves, since stress is only one of many factors that determine their ability to get pregnant.

And she hopes doctors will be able to convey that message to people who are trying to conceive.

“Not, ‘It’s your fault that you’re not pregnant,’” she emphasizes. “But, ‘Let me tell you what you can do while we’re waiting to see if you meet that infertility diagnosis criteria.’

“You know, ‘What you really should try to do on your own, is see if you can improve your stress levels.’”

The study from Ohio State University appears online in the journal Human Reproduction.