Division Office of the Director (OD)

OD Research - Reproductive Epidemiology

Impact of Physiologic and Perceived Psychosocial Stress on Time to Pregnancy

Previous research has suggested an association between stress and infertility, though little research has focused on conceptions delays or pregnancy loss. In collaboration with investigators from the Oxford Conception Study, a prospective follow up of a subgroup of participating women provided saliva samples on day 6 of each cycle while attempting pregnancy for measurement of two biomarkers: cortisol and alpha amylase. Salivary concentrations of stress biomarkers were analyzed in relation to female fecundity as measured by time-to-pregnancy and risk of pregnancy loss. We found evidence that alpha amylase was negatively associated with time-to-pregnancy but not pregnancy loss. No association was observed for salivary cortisol. There are the first findings to empirically support a relation between stress, possibly as mediated via the sympathetic pathway as measured by alpha amylase, and female fecundity.

Principal Investigator

Germaine Louis, Ph.D., M.S.

NICHD Collaborators

Selected Publication

  • Buck Louis GM, Lum K, Sundaram R, Chen Z, Kim S, Lynch CD, Schisterman EF, Pyper C. Stress reduces conception probabilities across the fertile window: evidence in support of relaxation. Fertility and Sterility 2011; 95:2184-2189. PMID: 20688324
  • Lynch CD, Sundaram R, Buck Louis GM, Lum KJ, Pyper C. Are increased levels of self-reported psychosocial stress, anxiety and depression associated with fecundity? Fertility and Sterility; in press. PMID: 22698634
  • Chason R, Chen Z, Buck Louis GM, Segars JH, Pyper C. Preconception stress and the secondary stress level. Fertility and Sterility 2012;98(4):937-941. PMID: 22884014
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