Study: Stress May Be Associated with Fertility Issues in Women

To assess one potential source of diminished ovarian reserve, the researchers looked to the potential role of stress in this process.

A small animal study found that female rats exposed to the sound of a scream may have diminished ovarian reserve and reduced fertility, according to research published in the Endocrine Society’s journal Endocrinology.

According to the study authors, ovarian reserve is the reproductive potential left within a woman’s 2 ovaries based on the number and quality of eggs. For each woman, they are born with a limited number of eggs and her body is not able to create more, although diminished ovarian reserve can also occur over time. However, the cause of the diminished quality and quantity of eggs in the ovaries has remained unknown for some time.

To assess one potential source of diminished ovarian reserve, the researchers looked to the potential role of stress in this process.

“We examined the effect of stress on ovarian reserve using a scream sound model in rats,” said Wenyan Xi, PhD, of the Second Affiliation Hospital of Xi’an Jiao Tong University in Xian, China, in a press release. “We found that female rats exposed to the scream sound had diminished ovarian reserve and decreased fertility.”

The research team used a scream sound model to investigate the effect of stress on ovarian reserve in female rats, and they exposed the female rats to a scream sound for 3 weeks and analyzed the effect on their sex hormones, the number and quality of their eggs, and their ability to get pregnant and have babies after mating.

The analysis found that the scream sound decreased the rats’ estrogen and Anti-Mullerian hormone levels. The Anti-Mullerian hormone is a hormone made by the ovaries which helps build reproductive organs, whereas estrogen is a group of hormones that play an important role in growth and reproductive development.

Furthermore, the investigators observed that the scream sound appeared to lower the number and quality of the rats’ eggs and resulted in smaller litters.

“Based on these findings, we suggest stress may be associated with diminished ovarian reserve,” Xi said in the press release. “It is important to determine an association between chronic stress and ovarian reserve because doing so may expand our appreciation of the limitations of current clinical interventions and provide valuable insight into the cause of diminished ovarian reserve.”

REFERENCE

Stress may be associated with fertility issues in women. Endocrine Society. May 10, 2022. Accessed May 11, 2022. https://www.endocrine.org/news-and-advocacy/news-room/2022/stress-may-be-associated-with-fertility-issues-in-women#:~:text=Female%20rats%20exposed%20to%20a,the%20Endocrine%20Society's%20journal%2C%20Endocrinology.

Related Content