New research has highlighted the importance of stress in understanding infertility.
Studies have shown that stress can prevent pregnancy by increasing too many of the fight-or-flight hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can reduce sperm count and prevent ovulation. Stress hormones can interfere with these steps by preventing the actions of a key reproductive hormone known as gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH).
When GnRH is inhibited, it does not trigger the pituitary gland to produce and secrete other reproductive hormones.
New research from the University of California Berkeley is now showing that stress can also impact fertility by causing the increase of another reproductive hormone called Gonadotropin-Inhibitory Hormone (GnIH). This hormone further impedes procreation by preventing the GnRH hormone from being released.
“Stress had already been shown to affect all those other more traditional players in the sex hormone cascade but no one had looked at GnIH yet,” says Elizabeth Kirby, a member of the research team. “So, our research basically adds a new piece to the puzzle of sex and reproduction – a new hormone known to suppress reproduction is also now known to increase in response to stress.”
Ultimately, what this means is that stress works in more than just one way to impact fertility.