Health Advice



No link between stress and infertility, doctor says, so stop telling couples, 'Oh, just relax and you'll get pregnant'

Darcel Rockett, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Health & Fitness

Kasmirah Scarbrough wants people to know that infertility is not a dirty word.

The Montgomery, Illinois, resident has been on a journey to have a baby with her husband, Derick, since 2010.

“It’s a roller coaster of emotions,” she said. “It’s hope, it’s fear, it’s loss. It’s a constant barrage of ‘I feel really good about this’ to ‘it didn’t work.’ ‘I feel really sucky about this,’ to ‘maybe there’s hope.’ ‘We can try it again’ to ‘it didn’t work again.’”

While infertility is stressful emotionally and physically (i.e., the pain associated with in vitro fertilization), Dr. Tarun Jain, reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Northwestern Medicine, wants to reassure those going through it that there is no established link between emotional stress and infertility.

Having frequently fielded questions about how stress factors into fertility treatments and miscarriages, Jain conducted a study, published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics. Of the 1,460 women who participated in the survey:

• 28.9% believed emotional stress could cause infertility.


• 69% believed emotional stress could reduce success with fertility treatment.

• 31.3% believed emotional stress could cause a miscarriage;.

• Women of color were significantly more likely to believe that emotional stress can cause infertility or reduce fertility treatment success.

• Women who used online searches and social media to read about infertility were significantly more likely to believe stress has an impact on fertility treatment.


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