Not exactly, says Courtney Denning-Johnson Lynch, PhD, MPH, lead author of a new prospective cohort study published in Fertility and Sterility. The latest results seem to show that stress, anxiety, and depression self-reported by women via questionnaires do no correlate with fecundity, but she says the lack of an association really lies with the inadequacy of questionnaires.
Not exactly, says Courtney Denning-Johnson Lynch, PhD, MPH, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, lead author of a new prospective cohort study published in Fertility and Sterility. The latest results seem to show that stress, anxiety, and depression self-reported by women via questionnaires do not correlate with fecundity, but she says the lack of an association really lies with the inadequacy of the questionnaires.
“You can’t give a woman a paper and pencil questionnaire about being stressed out and expect that it is going to impact her chances of getting pregnant, because we just didn’t find any association at all,” according to Lynch.
She says that all of her prior research does point to an association between high levels of the stress biomarker alpha-amylase and longer time to pregnancy. But the questionnaires commonly used in practice do not correlate with levels of stress biomarkers.
The questionnaires used in the study were the Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the State-trait Anxiety Inventory for adults, the Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey, and the Pearlin’s Mastery Scale.
Published online, the current research involved 339 women from the United Kingdom aged 18 to 40 years of age who were trying to conceive for up to 3 months. Almost two-thirds (61%) of the women became pregnant during the study; 20% did not, and 19% withdrew.
After controlling for maternal age, months trying to conceive before study enrollment, parity, caffeine intake, cigarette smoking, and frequency of sexual intercourse, Lynch and her colleagues found no association between most psychosocial measures and fecundity or day-specific probabilities of getting pregnant, with 1 exception; they found some evidence that women with greater social support became pregnant faster than those with less social backing.
Lynch explained that she and her research partners looked only at stress self-reported at the beginning of the menstrual cycle, and that maybe stress levels at the end of the cycle would be more accurately reflected by self-report methods.
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