On average, 20 percent of all couples trying to get pregnant will not conceive in the first year of trying, Kidspot reported. In fact, only 25 percent of couples trying to start a family actually conceive in the first month. If you’re trying to have a baby and want to improve these odds, we have some advice: avoid stress.

A new study has revealed that women's high stress actually reduces their probability of conception. Kira Taylor, Ph.D., and her colleagues found that women who reported feeling more stressed during their ovulatory window were approximately 40 percent less likely to conceive. Additionally, women who generally reported feeling more stressed than other women were about 45 percent less likely to conceive.

"These findings add more evidence to a very limited body of research investigating whether perceived stress can affect fertility," Taylor said. "The results imply that women who wish to conceive may increase their chances by taking active steps towards stress reduction such as exercising, enrolling in a stress management program or talking to a health professional."

So, how did researchers get to this conclusion? They examined 400 women — all 40-years-old and younger — who were sexually active. Taylor and her team then recorded their daily stress levels measured on a scale from low to high. They took notes on the subjects’ menstruation, intercourse, contraception, alcohol, caffeine and smoking habits.

The study also found that women who did conceive experienced an increase in stress at the end of the month in which they became pregnant.

"Some individuals are skeptical that emotional and psychological attributes may be instrumental in affecting fertility," Taylor said. "I hope the results of this study serve a wake-up call for both physicians and the general public that psychological health and well-being is just as important as other more commonly accepted risk factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or obesity when trying to conceive."

Source: Taylor K. Scientists Find Stress Negatively Affects Chances Of Conception. Annals of Epidemiology. 2016.

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