What is the mechanism of stress, and how does it affect reproduction?

“When pushed too far, subfertility occurs”
Here is an ad hoc selection of a few abstracts from my files on psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology papers addressing ovulation, reproduction (folliculogenesis).

Abstracts of ad hoc selected papers about stress in reproductive physiology:

What is the mechanism of stress, and how does it affect reproduction?

The first few are representative of animal work, and then several abstracts represent the literature on stress in the human female. In between, let’s display our cyclic profile data on a non-baseline menstrual cycle with delayed ovulation. This record illustrates how our OvulonaTM device can detect the effect of stress on the course of the menstrual cycle. Non-baseline refers to any real-life female with all the stressors of our daily life, no baseline simplifications of conditions such as we need to try and approach what we would call ideality (at least in physical science we would…).

Should these abstracts turn out to be too stressful, then you may perhaps enjoy better another selection I just came across, Introduction to psychoneuroendocrinology volume: is there a neurobiology of love? http://cogweb.ucla.edu/Abstracts/NeuroLove_98.html

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Highlights:

possible pathway in the regulation of ovulation – stria terminalis to the amygdaloid complex in the monkey (Macaca fascicularis) – J Physiol. 1977

Characteristics of a ventral tract from the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST) to the amygdaloid complex

from BST to the amygdala, and, since the neurones of BST contain estradiol, … this tract may be involved in the regulation of ovulation.

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New data on serotoninergic mechanisms in ovulation in the cyclic female rat – C R Seances Soc Biol Fil. 1979

These results provide support to the specificity of action of serotonin in the control of ovulation in the cyclic rat. They also suggest an interaction of serotonin and oestrogens in this control.

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the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis in the female rhesus monkey. – Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1993
inhibit the GnRH pulse generator

acute decrease in LH and FSH secretion.

This decrease in gonadotropin release may explain the deleterious effects of stress on the menstrual cycle. However, an acute decrease in gonadotropins following activation of the adrenal axis is not observed in the presence of estradiol.

Thus, during the menstrual cycle, a relative protection against the deleterious effects of acute stress may exist. How potent this protective mechanism is against repetitive stress is not known.

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What is stress, and how does it affect reproduction? – Anim Reprod Sci. 2000

stressors such as milk fever or lameness increase the calving to conception interval by 13-14 days, and an extra 0.5 inseminations are required per conception.

a variety of endocrine regulatory points exist whereby stress limits the efficiency of reproduction

stressors interfere with precise timings of reproductive hormone release within the follicular phase

opioids mediate these effects

there is a level of interference by stressors at the ovary

Reproduction is such an important physiological system that animals have to ensure that they can respond to their surroundings; thus, it is advantageous to have several protein mechanisms, i.e. at higher brain, hypothalamus, pituitary and target gland levels.

However, when pushed too far, subfertility occurs.

Non-baseline cycle with delayed ovulation

…stressors interfere with precise timings…

And the stressors may even cause the Ms. to forget her daily measurement, in spite of which the pattern is discernible and interpretable in terms of “go/no go” or “safe/unsafe” as some may put it; we just say FERTILE or NOT and leave it to the user to decide… And yes, the indication of the fertile day number will also be provided.

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The role of stress in female reproduction: animal and human considerations – Int J Fertil. 1990

Tonic, pulsatile gonadotropin secretion is inhibited by stress and by administered morphine, but morphine does not block the estrogen-induced preovulatory surge in primates.

Accordingly, impaired follicular development appears to be the most common cause of reproductive dysfunction attributable to stress in the human female

must take into consideration the many differences between the hormonal responses to stress in the human and laboratory animals.

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Development of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis – Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1997

Onset of puberty is associated with a greater increase in LH pulse amplitude than frequency

Only after the steep early pubertal increase in LH, ovarian steroidogenesis is activated, with increases in androgen and estrogen secretion. Under further FSH stimulation, follicular growth and maturation proceed. The first menstrual cycles are mostly anovulatory for 1 to 2 years. Luteal phase insufficiency is common the first five years after menarche.

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Hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis in control of female reproductive cycleIndian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2001

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion from the hypothalamus is pivotal to the regulation of reproductive physiology in vertebrates. The characteristic periodic secretion of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) from the medial basal hypothalamus (MBH), at the rate of one pulse an hour is essential for the maintenance of the menstrual cycle. These pulses are due to oscillations in the electrical activity of the GnRH pulse generator in the MBH.

The GnRH pulse generator is under the influence of an assortment of interactions of multiple neural, hormonal and environmental inputs to the hypothalamus. Hence, a number of conditions such as stress, drug intake, exercise, sleep affect the activity of this pulse generator.

Any deviation of normal frequency results in disruption of normal cycle. The cycle can become anovulatory in the hypothalamic lesions

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Influence of the ovarian cycle on the central nervous system – Ther Umsch. 2002

In general, estradiol and testosterone exert a stimulatory, progesterone an inhibitory effect on neuronal activities which are mediated by excitatory (e.g. glutamate, aspartate), and inhibitory amino acids (e.g. GABA) and neuropeptides (e.g. beta-endorphin), respectively.

The pulse amplitudes are primarily influenced by estradiol, but neuropeptide Y, neurotensin and noradrenaline contribute to their preovulatory enhancement.

Despite of this, up to 20% of ovulatory cycles do not show any rise in body temperature.

It could be demonstrated that performance on tests of articulatory and fine motor skills are enhanced in the late follicular phase as compared to the menstruation phase, while spatial ability was better during menses. Estrogens may influence mood and well-being in a favorable manner, while in predisposed women progesterone may cause symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Somatic complaints (back pain, abdominal pain, breast tenderness) which are highest before and during menstruation, are probably associated with a lowered pain threshold due to a fall in the beta-endorphin levels in the CNS.

FOR A 2012 UPDATE SEE https://biozhena.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/what-is-the-mechanism-of-stress-and-how-does-it-affect-reproduction-an-update/

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7 Responses to “What is the mechanism of stress, and how does it affect reproduction?”

  1. What is the mechanism of stress, and how does it affect reproduction? « Flowers 2 life Says:

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  2. What is the mechanism of stress, and how does it affect reproduction? « Game world boy Says:

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  3. What is the mechanism of stress, and how does it affect reproduction? « ida7397 blog Says:

    […] What is the mechanism of stress, and how does it affect reproduction? source […]

  4. The fallacy of ovulation calculators, calendars and circulating-hormone detectors « bioZhena’s Weblog Says:

    […] As you can imagine, with our stressful lifestyle and environment, this is a very serious flaw that results in many disappointments. George Condo – Field of Figures sold for $450,000 at Skarstedt Gallery's booth Published: […]

  5. What is the mechanism of stress and how does it affect reproduction. An update. « bioZhena's Weblog Says:

    […] This is an update in May 2012 on scientific literature reviewed in biozhena.wordpress.com/2007/12/27/ […]

  6. The Ovulona is not another ovulation kit, my dear | bioZhena's Weblog Says:

    […] other fertility monitors cannot detect either delayed ovulation (which happens due to stress) or when ovulation does not occur at all despite the LH hormone signaling that ovulation should go […]

  7. estrogen balance Says:

    Great post! Many thanks 🙂

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