Women with hectic jobs and stress in their day-to-day lives are at risk of becoming infertile and psychotherapy could improve their chances of conceiving, researchers have claimed.
Women who struggle to conceive could increase their chances greatly by learning to cope more effectively with the stress of daily life, a new study by US scientists said.
Although stress is known to reduce fertility, they warned that if a woman is also dieting and exercising, the effect could be many times greater, they said.
In stressed women, increased levels of a hormone called cortisol block the signal from the brain that tells the ovaries to release eggs, Nature magazine quoted researcher Sarah Berga and her colleagues at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, as saying.
In severe cases, a woman can stop producing eggs altogether and have her periods cease a condition called amenorrhoea.
Amenorrhoea, researchers say, is also caused by severe dieting and exercise. To find out how these factors interact, Berga subjected a group of female monkeys either to mild stress by putting them in a different room each day, or to a regime of calorie-restricted diet and exercise.
In each group, 10 per cent of the monkeys stopped having periods. But when the monkeys were subjected to stress as well as diet and exercise, 75 per cent of them stopped having periods.
The results show that women hoping to conceive should be particularly careful about dieting and exercising when stressed. 'A little of each was much worse than a little of one,'she said.