Too much stress may be putting the stop on your plans to become pregnant, according to new research from Oxford University in England. In the study, published online August 4, 2010, in the journal Fertility and Sterility, researchers tracked hormone levels in 274 healthy women who were actively trying to conceive, periodically measuring levels of the body's two main stress hormones—adrenaline, the body's fight or flight hormone, and cortisol, connected with chronic stress. According to researchers, women with the highest levels of alpha-amylase (an indicator of adrenaline levels) had about a 12 percent reduced chance of getting pregnant during their fertile days that month compared with those with the lowest levels of the marker.
"This is the first study to find that a biological measure of stress is associated with a woman's chances of becoming pregnant that month," Dr. Cecilia Pyper, of the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford and study coauthor, says to the BBC.
Researchers, however, note that high or low cortisol levels seemed to make no difference in whether or not a woman would become pregnant.
Stressed out? According to Dr. Pyper, "In some people's cases, it might be relevant to look at relaxation techniques, counseling, and even approaches like yoga and meditation." In addition to possibly helping you become pregnant, experts also believe the controlled breathing and visualization aspects of practices such as yoga and meditation are helpful when it comes to staying calm and relaxed during childbirth.