A new study shows stress can double risk of infertility and delay pregnancy.

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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- It's been suspected for many years that stress can make it harder to get pregnant. Now the first ever study is published to confirm that theory.

The research shows women with high levels of stress are 29 percent less likely to get pregnant each month, and they are twice as likely to be clinically infertile.

Dr. Courtney Lynch and her team at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center followed over 400 couples for a year, collecting saliva samples.

Dr. Lynch says, "As you continue to try to conceive and it's been 5, 6 months and perhaps you're not yet pregnant, then maybe it's something you may want to look at in terms of improving your overall lifestyle."

Dr. Shannon Green of Foxhall OB/GYN Associates in Northwest Washington is concerned about the rising levels of stress in today's society and how that relates to our ability to conceive.

Dr. Green says, "In Washington, D.C. we have a lot of high stress positions of professional women who are achieving many goals. I find that I have women who come in trying for many months at a time and have been unable to conceive."

It has been known for a while that prolonged stress has an adverse effect on the body, causing high blood pressure, heart problems, migraines, and depression.

"With stress we see higher levels of cortizol. We believe that is can adversely affect the way that our hormones are balanced in our body," adds Dr. Green.

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