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Thursday

Stress may be causing infertility in women

Stress can make women infertile, research has revealed. Scientists found that those with high levels of a stress hormone stop ovulating and are therefore unable to conceive. Women with hectic jobs are those most at risk, and are often most in denial about the stress in their lives, say researchers. They also found that simple ‘talking therapies’ can reverse the effect of stress and boost a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant. The research was presented yesterday at the annual conference of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology in Prague. Professor Sarah Berga, from Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia, studied 16 women in their 20s and 30s who were normal weight but had not had a period for six months. She found they had high levels of the hormone cortisol which is linked to stress. Eight of the women were given cognitive behavioral therapy and the rest no treatment. The therapy was designed to give women a better sense of perspective and improved self-worth to help cut stress levels. But professor Berga said it did not involve telling women to ‘pull themselves together’. “They don’t report stress. They say everything is just fine. It may be the fact that the people that say everything is fine are the most stressed. They have the unrealistic attitudes about themselves and others and think they can get more done in the day than is realistic, and their sense of worth depends on achievements.”
JULIE WHELDON

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