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Stress might be linked to fertility issues in women, new research finds

Ovarian reserve is the reproductive potential left within a woman's two ovaries, based on the number and quality of eggs. File picture: AP

Ovarian reserve is the reproductive potential left within a woman's two ovaries, based on the number and quality of eggs. File picture: AP

Published May 11, 2022

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Washington - According to the findings of a small animal study, female rats exposed to a screaming sound may have diminished ovarian reserve and reduced fertility.

The study was published in the Endocrine Society's journal, “Endocrinology”.

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Ovarian reserve is the reproductive potential left within a woman's two ovaries based on the number and quality of eggs.

A woman is born with a finite number of eggs and her body cannot create any more. Diminished ovarian reserve is the loss of normal reproductive potential in the ovaries due to a lower count or quality of the remaining eggs.

“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.

“We found that female rats exposed to the screaming sound had diminished ovarian reserve and decreased fertility,” said Wenyan Xi.

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The researchers used a scream sound model to investigate the effect of stress on ovarian reserve in female rats.

They exposed female rats to a screaming sound for three weeks and analysed the effect on their sex hormones, the number and quality of their eggs, and their ability to get pregnant and have babies after mating.

They found the screaming sound decreased the rats’ oestrogen and Anti-Mullerian hormone levels.

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An oestrogen is a group of hormones that play an important role in growth and reproductive development, and the Anti-Mullerian hormone is a hormone made by the ovaries which helps form reproductive organs.

The screaming sound also lowered the number and quality of the female rats’ eggs and resulted in smaller litters.

“Based on these findings, we suggest stress may be associated with diminished ovarian reserve,” Xi said.

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“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,” concluded Xi.

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