In North America, 20 to 25 percent of women and 18 to 21 percent of men of reproductive age report daily psychological stress. Although previous research has suggested that stress can decrease the odds of conception, few studies have examined this association among couples from the general population.
Now, a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), United States (U.S.), researchers finds higher levels of stress are associated with lower odds of conception for women, but not for men.
The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.”Although this study does not definitely prove that stress causes infertility, it does provide evidence supporting the integration of mental health care in preconception guidance and care,” says BUSPH doctoral student Amelia Wesselink, the study’s lead author.
The researchers used data from the Pregnancy Study Online (PRESTO), an ongoing preconception cohort of North American pregnancy planners that follows couples for 12 months or until pregnancy, whichever comes first. For the new study, the researchers followed 4,769 women and 1,272 men who did not have a history of infertility and had not been trying to conceive for more than six menstrual cycles.
The researchers measured perceived stress using the 10-item version of the perceived stress scale (PSS), which is designed to assess how unpredictable, uncontrollable, and overwhelming an individual finds their life circumstances. The items referred to the past month, with five response choices ranging from 0 (never) to 4 (very often), up to a total of 40, with a higher total score indicating a higher level of perceived stress. Both partners completed the PSS at baseline, and women also completed the PSS at each bi-monthly PRESTO follow-up. The baseline questionnaires also included a range of demographic and behavioral factors, including race/ethnicity, household income, diet, sleep, and frequency of intercourse.
On average, baseline PSS scores were about 1 point higher among women than men, and the average follow-up PSS scores among women remained fairly constant over the 12 months that they participated in the study.
The researchers found women with PSS scores of at least 25 were 13 percent less likely to conceive than women with PSS scores under 10. This association was stronger among women who had been trying to conceive for no more than two menstrual cycles before joining PRESTO than among women who had been trying for three or more cycles before enrolling. The association was also stronger among women under 35 years old.
The researchers found that, if the link between higher levels of stress and lower odds of conception is a causal association, a small proportion of that association could be due to decreased intercourse frequency and increased menstrual cycle irregularity.
The researchers did not find an association between men’s PSS score and the likelihood of conceiving. However, couples in the study were about 25 percent less likely to conceive when the man’s PSS score was under 10 and the women’s was 20 or higher. The authors wrote that this is the first study to suggest that “partner stress discordance” may affect the likelihood of conception, although the finding was imprecise and speculative.
Meanwhile, for women that get recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), water really is the best medicine to prevent the painful infections, a new study reveals.
One in five young women gets frequent bladder infections, and some people are simply more prone to them than others. Perhaps because they are so common, there are plenty of myths about at-home treatment and prevention of UTI: peeing after sex to prevent them, drinking cranberry juice to get rid of them.
You are not entirely helpless against them at home, though. University of Miami researchers found that staying hydrated can cut the risks of a bladder infection nearly in half. If you’re a woman, odds are you will have a UTI at some point in your life. An estimated 50-60 percent of women will get at least one painful, burning infection during the course of their lives.
And for many, the first will not be the last. Urinary tract infections can happen to anyone, but they are much more common among women. While bladder infections are not sexually transmitted, sex does make them more likely. UTIs happen when bacteria that don’t belong in the urinary tract find their way into it, and start multiplying. Typically, the misplaced bacteria originally came from the digestive tract. Skin-to-skin contact and jostling during sex makes it easier for bacteria – most commonly E. coli – from your digestive tract gets shuffled into your urinary tract.
A long-running theory has advised women to make sure to pee after sex, purportedly to help expel bacteria from the urinary tract. And to prepare to wash out all that bacteria, the common sense advice has been to drink lots of water. “While it’s been widely assumed that increased water intake helps to flush out bacteria and reduce the risk of recurrent UTI, there has been no supporting research data showing such a beneficial effect of water,” said lead study author.“We advise people to do things based on logical thinking and biological plausibility, but often we don’t have trials to back it up.”
But the research he and his team carried out and published in JAMA Internal Medicine Tuesday changes that. They studied 140 premenopausal women in Europe, all of whom suffered from recurrent UTIs.The women were in the habit of drinking less than six eight-ounce glasses of water, suggesting that they might not be sufficiently hydrated.
For the 12 months of the study, the scientists had these women up their water intake so that they were drinking at least those six glasses every day.They found that those who drank more water were far less likely to get UTIs. In fact, the less-hydrated women got nearly twice as many bladder infections over the year. They had an average infection frequency of about 3.2, compared to 1.7 for those who drank six or more glasses of water a day.
“This study provides convincing evidence that increased daily intake of water can reduce frequent UTIs,” he said. So far, his working theory is that the old wives’ tale had the right theory all along: “The mechanism is presumably via the flushing effect of increased urine volume, but there may be other effects we are not aware of.”
Part of the reason that clinical evidence for the hydration theory has been lacking is financially-motivated, Hooton says. Research showing that medications like antibiotics work serves to push patients to buy more drugs, and that funnels money into the pockets of pharmaceutical companies.
That can help doctors, too. Cheap or free preventative measures, like water don’t feed into the same monetary loop. Currently, many doctors advise those who regularly get UTIs after sex to take an antibiotic right before intercourse.
But that can get expensive, and may even contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance. Hydrating is far cheaper – and promotes better health in general.
“The results are important given the increasing prevalence of antimicrobial resistance and the critical need for antimicrobial-sparing modalities in the management of infectious diseases.”
The Guardian News