Stress and making babies

Making babies can be an enjoyable past-time but babies tend to have their own timetable and may not appear as soon as you expect. There could be many reasons for this but a new study has found that stress may be a part of the problem if their is difficulty conceiving.

The results come from the Oxford Conception Study which followed women aged eighteen to 40 years old who were trying to conceive. The women were followed for either six menstrual cycles or until they conceived, whichever came first. On the sixth day of each cycle saliva samples were taken and measured for alpha amylase and cortisol, two substances that reveal stress levels.

The researchers found that women who had the highest concentrations of alpha amylase in their first cycle were twelve per cent less likely to conceive than women with the lowest levels. Alpha amylase is typically raised in the acute response to immediate stressors. Cortisol levels however, were not associated with chances of conception.

So it seems that short term stress is a big problem for making babies. This fits well with previous research in the field. One notable study from a few years ago found that women on IVF were more likely to conceive if they were visited by a clown immediately after attempted fertilisation. Presumably the laughter and consequent reduction in stress hormones and enzymes, and not anything to do with the clown’s honking horn or enormous shoes, were the relevant factors here.

The other point to be made is that in any given cycle the average couple had a 30 per cent chance of falling pregnant. So expecting to make a baby straight away may increase stress and create a vicious cycle.

So if making babies is your project; relax and let it happen in its own time, meditate or do whatever it takes to ease your stress levels, and check to see whether Mister Chuckles makes house calls.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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