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Pre-pregnancy Stress Linked To Higher Blood Sugar Levels, Impacting Heart Health In Women

Study reveals the importance of managing stress for fertility and healthy pregnancies

Women who experience more stress before pregnancy have higher blood sugar levels when expecting – resulting in weaker heart health. A new study, which was conducted among 400 American women attending a fertility center, highlights how stress is an important factor for those going through infertility and how maintaining a healthy pregnancy for both mothers and children is crucial.


People’s stress levels have continued to rise over the years, particularly in the last few years due to the Covid pandemic, putting them at risk for serious health issues such as heart disease. Research now shows women may experience more stress than men, especially those suffering infertility.

Study author Dr. Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, of Harvard Medical School, said: “We found that maternal stress, evaluated before pregnancy, is negatively associated with cardiovascular health, measured as glucose levels during pregnancy.


“Our results highlight the importance of considering preconception as a sensitive window of stress in relation to cardiovascular health during pregnancy.

“A few ways women can lower their stress levels include being more active, avoiding alcohol and drugs, eating healthily and avoiding isolation.” The findings, published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, were derived from analyzed self-reported stress levels in 400 women at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Centre in Boston before they became pregnant, and then measured their blood sugar levels in late pregnancy.

They found women with high levels of stress before pregnancy were more likely to have high blood sugar during pregnancy. It was also found that women who conceived through intrauterine insemination (IUI) had higher stress and blood sugar levels than those who conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF).


Dr. Mínguez-Alarcón added: “This may be explained by the fact that IUI treatment has shown less effectiveness as an infertility treatment compared to IVF, so women undergoing IUI may experience more distress compared to those going through IVF,” The researchers also noticed that stress and blood sugar levels were higher among women with high socioeconomic status.

Dr. Mínguez-Alarcón explained the possible reason for this finding could be women with higher incomes and education levels may be employed in demanding, time-intensive jobs.

“It has previously been shown that those with a higher education level experience greater levels of job stress, with stronger associations found in women than in men,” said Dr. Mínguez-Alarcón. 

“Given that education level is positively associated with salary, it is possible that this explanation applies to women with higher incomes as well. “Professional women are often also responsible for balancing demands in the workplace with household duties and childcare.”


Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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