Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Can Stress Keep You From Making Babies?

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

July 13, 2001-- You've probably heard of people who try and try in vain to get pregnant, and then when they finally give up, BAM! They're pregnant.

New research now shows that a common cause of infertility in women, called functional hypothalamic amenorrhea, or FHA, indeed may be caused by stress. So removing the stress cures the problem.

Women with FHA cannot become pregnant because the hormones responsible for reproduction aren't produced in high enough amounts for women to ovulate. Ovulation is the point in a woman's menstrual cycle when an egg is released from her ovary in hopes of meeting a friendly sperm.

Study author and infertility expert Tammy L. Loucks, MPH, tells WebMD that it is possible to give women hormones to make them ovulate. This, however, isn't a great solution for people with FHA, because the fact that their reproductive hormones are off kilter means that if they did get pregnant, they are more likely to have complications or have children with developmental problems. Loucks, a research associate in the division of reproductive endocrinology at Magee-Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh, discussed her study on FHA at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting held last month in Denver.

Loucks and her colleagues know from their research that women with FHA tend to be more stressed out than average women or women with infertility problems due to another cause. But giving them drugs to improve their mood is not a great solution, because these drugs might negatively affect a developing child.

Instead, Loucks and company tried a type of psychological therapy called cognitive behavior therapy. During this talking therapy, the women identify their stresses and ways discuss ways to of cope with them. Fourteen women with FHA underwent cognitive behavior therapy and also talked with a reproductive endocrinologist about stress, FHA, and how they are related.

After 20 weeks, all of these women had increased levels of reproductive hormones in their bodies, and 80% actually had the amount of hormones required to make them ovulate.

Expert Michelle P. Warren, MD, head of the Center for Menopause, Hormonal Disorders, and Women's Health at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital East in New York, was not surprised by these findings.

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Woman looking at pregnancy test
calendar and baby buggy
dark chocolate squares