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Can stress and anxiety affect pregnancy or lead to miscarriage?

By Elisa Pérez Larrea M.D., M.Sc. (gynecologist).
Last Update: 02/15/2022

At the level of conception and fertility, stress can cause lack of ovulation during a menstrual cycle and, consequently, decrease the chances of pregnancy. In women with anxiety and high stress levels, ovulation can even decrease by 20%. However, no relationship has been found between stress and miscarriage rate, so stress is ruled out as a cause of miscarriage.

However, there are studies that relate life stress with some effects on pregnancy: there is a very discreet increase in premature births, and in cases of fetal growth retardation in those women with a more stressful rhythm of life. The mechanism by which this happens is still unknown, although these situations must be understood as a sum of factors, in which stress can accentuate a previous predisposition or trigger it, but never be the only responsible, except in very extreme cases.

Pregnancy is a special vital stage and it is advisable to know how to adapt to live this period in a relaxed and healthy way. It is recommended to maintain a certain amount of daily activity and do some type of physical exercise, but in no case is it good to maintain a stressful rhythm of life.

 Elisa Pérez Larrea
Elisa Pérez Larrea
M.D., M.Sc.
Gynecologist
Dr. Elisa Pérez Larrea is a graduate in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Zaragoza and a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology from the University of Oviedo. She also has a Master's degree in Human Reproduction from the Complutense University of Madrid.
Licence number: 203311163
Gynecologist. Dr. Elisa Pérez Larrea is a graduate in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Zaragoza and a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology from the University of Oviedo. She also has a Master's degree in Human Reproduction from the Complutense University of Madrid. Licence number: 203311163.