Affects Of Stress
According to the latest research just published in the Fertility and Sterility Journal, stress really does affect a woman's chance of conceiving.
The research was carried out by Ohio State University, as part of the National Institutes of Health, in conjunction with the University of Oxford, England.
The research studied women between the ages of 18 -40 and discovered that even young women found it harder to conceive naturally when they were affected by stress. This is even more so for older women who have lower fertility levels already. The scientists looked at women's saliva for the stress hormone marker, alpha-amylase, as well as the better known hormone cortisol. They found that women with high levels of alpha-amylase at their fertile time of the month were 12% less likely to become pregnant. The women's cortisol levels didn't appear to make a difference to their ability to get pregnant. This alpha-amylase enzyme is a marker for adrenalin which gives you a rush feeling or 'fight or flight' reaction in stressful situations. The researchers found that the higher the level of stress the less likely the women were to become pregnant that cycle. According to Dr Cecilia Pyper, the leader of the research team in Oxford, this study is the first one to show a correlation between stress and a reduction in fertility.
Older women usually have less fertile days and thus less opportunity to get pregnant to begin with. They are also more likely to become stressed by their inability to get pregnant straight away as they feel that time is running out. This may affect you by setting off a vicious circle for you where the longer it takes to get pregnant the more stressed you get, and therefore the less likely you are to get pregnant that month and so on.
Since fertility treatment is stressful in the first place, both emotionally and physically, it makes sense to try and relax as much as possible. So while you are having the treatment you need to try and do everything that you can to lower your stress levels. You may want to ask your doctor if you can monitor your alpha-amylase levels to see how you are affected. Of course only do this if the answer isn't going to stress you even more!
Learn some relaxation techniques like meditation, or take a yoga class, or even swim, all of which may help you to relax and destress. One leading fertility doctor even suggested that if you find all the temperature taking and saliva testing too much, you should just throw the charts away! Perhaps the old adage of going away on holiday somewhere truly relaxing and just enjoying each other's company, without 'trying for a baby' really will help. This latest research certainly seems to say so.
Dr Germaine Buck Louis, part of the American side of the research team, said that the next stage of the research was to see how much stress contributes to infertility in general. She also wants to research which techniques help women the most to destress enough to conceive.