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New insight into the effects of stress on reproduction

This is Science Today. For the first time, a team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley has found just how stress may affect the reproductive system. Integrative biologist, George Bentley says until now, they've known that stress can inhibit reproduction, but they didn't know the exact mechanisms. The link they found was that stress increases brain levels of an inhibitory reproductive hormone called GnIH and this hormone actually puts the brakes on the body's main sex hormone called GnRH.

Bentley:          GnRH was thought to be either switched on or off and now we know that this inhibitory hormone seems to be acting in opposition to it, balancing it out and that completes the picture to some degree.

Narrator:        While these are still early findings, Bentley says it gives researchers a better understanding and a new way to think about treating infertility and sexual dysfunction.

Bentley:          The GnIH system is something we can target to inhibit the inhibition ... and it's early days yet, but this is my pie-in-the-sky idea.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.