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A Strong Social Network Helps Reduce Marital Conflicts and Stress

Social networks may help provide protection against health problems brought about by ordinary tension between spouses

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Marital conflict between a couple. Pixabay
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New York, Sep 17, 2017: Marital conflicts can take a toll on your health, but having even a few close friends and family members to turn to can help reduce the stress associated with such conflicts, new research suggests.

Social networks may help provide protection against health problems brought about by ordinary tension between spouses, said the study published online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

“We found that having a satisfying social network buffers spouses from the harmful physiological effects of everyday marital conflicts,” said Lisa Neff, Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin in the US.

“Maintaining a few good friends is important to weathering the storms of your marriage,” Neff said.

The research looked at 105 newlywed couples who kept daily records of marital conflict in their home environment and completed questionnaires about the number, quality and characteristics of their connections with friends and family.

In addition, the couples participating in the study collected morning and evening saliva samples for cortisol testing every day for six days.

Cortisol levels over the course of the day are a measure of the stress response.

The overall number of friends and family members that study participants reported having did not appear to affect couples’ ability to handle conflicts nearly as much as the quality of those outside relationships.

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The researchers found that people who reported having even a few close friends or family members to talk to outside of their marriage experienced lower levels of stress when marital conflicts arose.

“Even everyday conflict takes a toll on people physiologically,” Neff said.

“But we found that the association between marital conflict and cortisol responses completely disappears when people are happy and satisfied with their available social network,” Neff added. (IANS)

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Higher Levels of Stress May Reduce Fertility in Women, says Study

The researchers did not find an association between men's PSS score and the likelihood of conceiving

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Stress reduces fertility in women, but not in men: Study. Pixabay

Higher levels of stress can lower conception or fertility in women but it does not affect men, finds a study.

The researchers, from Boston University in the US, found that the association between higher levels of stress and lower levels of conception could be due to decreased intercourse frequency, increased partner stress discordance and higher levels of menstrual cycle irregularity.

“Although this study does not definitely prove that stress causes infertility, it does provide evidence supporting the integration of mental health care in preconception guidance and care,” said Amelia Wesselink, Research Assistant at the varsity.

For the new study, published in American Journal of Epidemiology, the team analysed 4,769 women and 1,272 men who did not have a history of infertility and had not been trying to conceive for more than six menstrual cycles.

The team measured perceived stress using the 10-item version of the stress scale (PSS) to assess how unpredictable, uncontrollable, and overwhelming individuals find their life circumstances.

stress
Representational image. Pixabay

On average, baseline PSS scores were about 1 point higher among women than men and the average follow-up PSS scores among women remained fairly constant over the 12 months.

The findings revealed that women with PSS scores of at least 25 were 13 per cent less likely to conceive than women with PSS scores under 10.

This association was stronger among women who had been trying to conceive for no more than two menstrual cycles than among women who had been trying for three or more cycles before enrolling. The association was also stronger among women under 35 years.

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The researchers did not find an association between men’s PSS score and the likelihood of conceiving.

However, couples in the study were about 25 per cent less likely to conceive when the man’s PSS score was under 10 and the women’s was 20 or higher, said the researchers. (IANS)