Medical Research

Stress and Miscarriage

The impact of stress on a woman’s ability to conceive has been well-studied, but the impact of stress on her ability to carry and ultimately deliver is not well characterized.

This is a problem for nearly all of us because we care about holding a baby in our arms, not a test in our hands. Especially in light of the fact that around a third of pregnancies miscarry.

A new study answers the crucial question: what is the impact of stress on miscarriage rates?

Many of the studies to this point that look at the impact of stress on miscarriage are retrospective (backward-looking) and suffer from the fact women are forced to try and recall (and investigators to interpret) how these women may have felt leading up to the miscarriage.

What’s New


As part of a larger study (which we've come to admire), investigators used a quantitative approach--cortisol levels in saliva--to prospectively measure a woman's level of stress as she began to try and conceive, ultimately charting those levels of stress against the outcome (pregnancy loss or delivery) if she managed to conceive.

Investigators followed 500 women living in Texas and Michigan who had no diagnosis of infertility. Cortisol levels were taken when they began trying to conceive and one month later.

Investigators had a lot of information on these women and managed to isolate variables both proven (age, alcohol consumption) and unproven (education, income) to coincide with miscarriage.

What The Study Showed


Of the 344 women who conceived, 97 then suffered a pregnancy loss. When comparing the stress levels of women who miscarried and those who delivered, investigators not only saw no statistically significant correlation, they found no correlation, or even a trend, of any kind.

Limitations


The major limitation of this study was that stress levels were only measured at the outset of the study. Stress levels can fluctuate & if those changed and had an impact, this study might not detect that. The reason that limitation might be tolerable is because such a high percentage of the women who conceived (and were thus studied) did so within the second month of enrollment, meaning they were somewhat recently tested.

The other major challenge of this study is in determining to whom the results are actually relevant. The women tracked were Caucasian women in the Midwest with no diagnosed fertility issue. Thus it can be tricky to know if the findings here apply to other women, namely non-Caucasian populations or women with fertility challenges.

Related Courses
27k

Acupuncture

Learn More
Does acupuncture & traditional Chinese medicine really make a difference for fertility? See the data on IVF, other fertility treatments, and trying naturally with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
63k

Lifestyle Choices, From Diet To Supplements

Learn More
All the data on lifestyle choices and their impact on fertility, including decisions around diet, exercise, drinking alcohol, caffeine consumption, smoking, recreational drugs, and using supplements.
Featuring experts from
Stanford, UCLA, +4 more
6k

Fertility 101

Learn More
You took sex ed, but now you need to understand fertility. Data to answer your questions about natural conception and diagnosing what might be wrong.
Featuring experts from
Stanford, Northwestern, +7 more
304k

IUI or "Artificial Insemination"

Learn More
Data on IUI success rates depending on who you are, what it costs, the risks, and how to decide between doing IUI and IVF.
Featuring experts from
Stanford, Cornell, +6 more
339k

IVF - In Vitro Fertilization

Learn More
The most complex fertility treatment, this course will help you do it right the first time.
Featuring experts from
NYU, Northwestern, +7 more
43k

Male Factor Infertility

Learn More
Male factor infertility impacts anywhere between a third and half of a couple's difficulty in conceiving. The primary factors often end up being related to varicocele or some form of azoospermia. While a semen analysis can help characterize if there is an issue, the test can be inconsistent, difficult to interpret.
Featuring experts from
Cornell, Mount Sinai
37k

PGT (PGS) Genetic Screening

Learn More
Giving you the full picture: where it helps, where it doesn’t, and how you might think about this expensive add-on based on your specific priorities.
Featuring experts from
Cornell, Northwestern, +6 more
9k

The IVF Laboratory

Learn More
Lab quality determines success. This course explains how to vet a lab to give yourself the best chance of a good outcome.
Featuring experts from
Columbia, NYU, +6 more
13k

ICSI

Learn More
ICSI costs $3–$5k but only improves birth rates in specific circumstances (hint: it’s not as simple as “helps with male factor”). We break down when it’s truly helpful.
Featuring experts from
Mount Sinai, NYU, +6 more
15k

Endometriosis

Learn More
Breaking down all the data and information on what endometriosis is, how to best diagnose it, and what the best treatment is depending on who you are
Featuring experts from
Stanford
73k

Embryo Transfer

Learn More
We cover how many embryos to transfer, medicated vs. unmedicated cycles, fresh vs. frozen, and the do's and don'ts on transfer day itself.
Featuring experts from
Columbia, NYU, +3 more
67k

Egg Freezing

Learn More
Preparing you to be a confident self-advocate as you make decisions around fertility preservation.
Featuring experts from
NYU, Mount Sinai, +3 more
Related Lessons

Body Fat and Fertility

BPA, Toxins, Pesticide and Phthalate Exposure

Conception: How Pregnancy Happens

Conventional Insemination or ICSI

Costs of IVF

Criticisms of PGT-A

Deciding Between IUI vs IVF

Diagnosing Endometriosis

Diagnosing Fertility Issues & Getting Help

Dietary Patterns and Fertility

Does Acupuncture Improve Outcomes?

Does Egg Freezing Work?

Exercise and Fertility

Fertility Impacts of Carbohydrates, Dairy, Meat, Fish, Soy & More

Freezing Eggs vs. Embryos

Frozen Embryo Transfer: Different Options To Prepare the Endometrium

Getting Pregnant Naturally

Growing Embryos To Cleavage or Blastocyst Stage

Herbs and Fertility

How Does Acupuncture Theoretically Address Fertility Challenges?

How Many Embryos to Transfer?

How Well IUI Works By Patient Type

How You Can Measure Lab Quality?

Importance Of The IVF Laboratory

Issues That Prevent Pregnancy

IVF Success Rates

Knowing Whether You Should Freeze Eggs: Predicting Whether You’ll Have Trouble Conceiving

Lifestyle Factors & Their Impact on Male Factor Infertility

Older Dads

Ovarian Stimulation Protocols

PGT-A and PGS Genetic Screening of Embryos

Smoking, Caffeine, Alcohol: Impacts On Fertility

What is IVF?

The Age When You Freeze: Understanding the Implications and Tradeoffs

The Benefits of PGT-A

The Biggest Decisions In An IUI Cycle

Transferring Fresh or Frozen Embryos

Treating Endometriosis

The Steps and Decisions In The IVF Process

The Semen Analysis

The Logistics of IUI

Vitamins, Supplements & Fertility

What Is Endometriosis?

What Is PGT-A?

Which Embryo To Transfer?

Who Needs ICSI & Who Doesn’t?