Stress Causes Infertility

Recent study say that stress couses infertility. According to a study published this week reports that women who are stressed have a lower chance of conceiving…cue the social media buzz and the spike in questions to doctors everywhere over the next few weeks. In this study, from a collaboration between University of Louisville and Emory University, 400 women 40 years old or less who were sexually active recorded their daily stress levels and other lifestyle factors over the course of several months.

The authors reported that during the cycles where women were stressed during their ovulation window, they were 40 percent less likely to conceive. Furthermore, the women in the study who felt more stressed in general were 45 percent less likely to conceive compared to the other women in the study.

This study is not groundbreaking. It used a small number of patients, and self-reported data is inherently flawed. So why all the buzz? Because, as a fertility provider, the single most common question I get from patients struggling to complete their family is, “Does stress cause infertility?” Everyone wants to know the answer to this question, but as a provider, there’s no easy way to respond:

Research regarding stress and infertility is inherently biased and somewhat flawed since many people struggling to have a baby become stressed in the process. Infertility and stress is a chicken and egg scenario – which comes first? Infertility can be isolating, frustrating, devastating. Infertility can lead to self-doubt, can strain relationships, and often has no clear explanation. Infertility is just plain stressful. It does not really matter if stress is the chicken or the egg of infertility – what matters is that patients have access to and awareness of the care they need.

Every person is different and has different needs. In my fertility clinic, we review a variety of support and wellness options for patients with infertility, including individual counseling, support groups through the patient advocacy group Resolve, yoga for fertility, mind/body classes, book lists, etc.

We may not have a definitive answer to the question, “Does stress cause infertility?,” but it’s nothing to get stressed about. Instead, shift your focus toward looking for ways to get the support you need on your journey to completing your family. Stress is unavoidable and there are many other factors that cause infertility. In the meantime: take time for yourself, do activities that you enjoy, limit exposure to toxic people, get outside, be a little selfish, ask for help, connect with your partner, do whatever it takes to be kind to yourself

Vinod Kumar

Health Journalist & writer. Editor of monthly health magazine "Health Spectrum."

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