Fertility and pregnancy * Babies and children * Women's health * Healthy living

Stress lowers chances of having baby

Stress lowers chances of having baby But yoga and meditation can help

Taking it easy may be the offhand advice doctors give to women who cannot conceive, but new scientific evidence confirms that stress does indeed play a role in conception.

Researchers at Oxford University and the US National Institutes of Health measured stress in women trying to get pregnant and found that those who were most stressed were least likely to conceive.

Stress joins other well known pregnancy risk factors such as excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and obesity.

The study measured two stress hormones in healthy women between the ages of 18 and 40 who were trying to conceive. It found that women with high levels of adrenalin had a 12 per cent lower chance of conceiving when fertile as compared to those who were less stressed.

"Irrespective of the day or frequency of sexual intercourse during the fertile window, women with higher concentrations of alpha-amylase were less likely to conceive than women with lower concentrations," the study said, referring to the enzyme that is an indicator of adrenalin levels.

However, women who were found to have a higher level of cortisol, which is a measure of chronic stress, were no less likely to conceive than women with lower levels of the stress hormone.

Dr Cecilia Pyper, of the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford, said: "The findings support the idea that couples should aim to stay as relaxed as they can about trying for a baby.

"In some people's cases, it might be relevant to look at relaxation techniques, counselling and even approaches like yoga and meditation."

The findings are published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

This article was published on Thu 12 August 2010

Image © pf30 - Fotolia.com

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