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Stress Affects Fertility

ertain the patients after the embryos were transferred to the womb, had increased pregnancy rates from 19.3% to 35.5%.

Professor Berga conducted her study in 16 women between the ages of 20 to 35 with stress-related amenorrhoea, all of who hadn’t had their period for at least six months. This group were than split into two groups of 8 each; one group was observed but not treated, while the other group were given a 20-week course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), like "talking treatment" in which strategies for coping with stress are taught.

"A Professor Berga explained that they noted that a amazing 80% of the women who received CBT started to ovulate again, as compared to 25% among the women in the other group. She explained, "This study underlines the important contribution that lifestyle factors make in determining overall health and reproductive health in particular."

The researchers explained that two women who had the CBT responded so well that they became pregnant soon afterwards, whereas previously they had not been able to ovulate. It was explained that the treatment appears to reduce levels of cortisol, which is a key stress hormone that was found to be higher than normal in all the patients at the start of the study. They also mentioned that there was no corresponding decline in the untreated group.

The results of the study though a successes, do come from a very small trial, and therefore need to be confirmed by larger studies. But still they do offer the best evidence so far that behavioural therapy to fight stress could restore fertility instead of using hormonal drugs or IVF.

Professor Berga said that although the study involved women whose monthly cycle had stopped, the findings might apply to other women who have fertility problems that are harder to discover because they are still menstruating. She explained that it were quite possible that many women would benefit by reducing their
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