A study published in the journal, Fertility and Sterility, adds evidence to the fact that stress may reduce the chances of getting pregnant. Women who had higher levels of stress-related enzyme, alpha amylase, were less likely to conceive, reports the study. This is the first study to present a biological basis for the belief that stress may reduce the chances of getting pregnant.
In this study researchers from National Institutes of Health and the UK's University of Oxford followed 274 couples who were trying to conceive for six months. None of the participants had a family history of infertility and all of them tracked their monthly cycles using at-home fertility kits. Women participants provided saliva samples to test for alpha-amylase and another stress hormone, cortisol, in the sixth month of the study.
Results showed that cortisol levels did not influence conception during the six days when pregnancy was most likely to occur. Women with high levels of alpha-amylase were 12% less likely to get pregnant when compared to those with low levels of this enzyme.
According to Germane Buck Louis, PhD, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, alpha-amylase was recently recognized as an indicator of stress. This enzyme is produced when the body secretes catecholamines in response to “fight or flight” stress reactions. “Catecholamines may reduce the blood flow which slows the passage of egg to the uterus," says Buck Louis. She feels that this study will motivate the scientific community to look at stress response more carefully.
Study researcher Cecilia Pyper, MS, of the University of Oxford, said that the findings will support the idea that reducing stress will help women to achieve desired pregnancy.