Earlier this week I opened my e-mail to the usual work business and ads. But amid the banality were two wonderful letters from readers of The Impatient Woman’s Guide. Best of all, both had gotten pregnant in just three months! Way to go, Impatient Women!
Meanwhile, the research literature on stress and fertility continues to be interesting. In the book I discuss the lack of evidence for what many people (including doctors) assume is true — that stress and worrying can lower fertility. It’s one reason why some doctors believe that ovulation prediction (such as charting or the fertility monitor) equates to “worrying too much” and might hurt rather than help. It’s true that depression lowers fertility, but there’s very little research on anxiety and stress. Now there’s a new, fairly extensive study showing that stress and anxiety has no effect on fertility, even when they measured it with stress hormones such as cortisol.
My favorite finding in this study was that women high in “trait anxiety” (us worriers) got pregnant just as fast as our calm sisters. Of course, it’s possible that future research will show reduced fertility with stress, but for such a commonly held belief there’s remarkably little evidence to back it up — and now some evidence to suggest it’s not true at all.
So: ovulation predict away — it will help you get pregnant faster if that is your goal. Try not to stress out just because stressing out doesn’t feel good, but know that “worrying too much” is unlikely to harm your chances of getting pregnant unless you get depressed.