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Singing During Pregnancy May be Harder Due to Hormones

The question of how hormones affect a woman's voice is relevant to professional singers because hormonal fluctuations may place them at risk of injury. Knowing when the risks are greatest would help singers avoid performing at those times -- in the same way that a track star with a bad knee will sit out a competition.

One of the most dramatic hormonal fluctuations occurs during pregnancy, and many professional singers have experienced difficulty singing while pregnant. However, scientists do not know if this effect is due to hormones or to some other cause, such as decreased lung capacity as the baby grows.

In order to assess the effect of hormones on a pregnant singer's voice, Filipa Lã of Aveiro University in Portugal followed a professionally-trained Portuguese singer through 12 weeks of pregnancy and for 12 weeks after birth. Once a week -- including just two days after the baby was born -- Lã recorded the singer reading and singing into a device that measures the pressure exerted to make each sound. Then Lã collaborated with Johan Sundberg of KTH in Stockholm, Sweden to reconcile the data with measurements of the singer's hormone levels. Their findings will be presented on Wednesday, October 28 at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) in San Antonio, TX.

This was the first longitudinal study of the effect of hormones on a singer's voice during pregnancy, and Lã and Sundberg found that the increased levels of hormones correlated with changes to the singer's vocal folds. Though temporary, the changes forced the singer to exert more pressure from her lungs to make the same notes.

"It seems that it's harder work during pregnancy to sing," says Lã. She adds, however, that this is preliminary research based on a single case study and that larger studies would be needed before doctors could give solid advice to professional singers.

The talk "Observations of the singing voice during pregnancy. A case study" (3aMU7) by Filipa Lã is at 11:15 a.m. on Wednesday, October 28.



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ASA's World Wide Press Room ( contains additional tips on dozens of newsworthy stories and lay-language papers, which are ~500-word summaries of presentations written by scientists for a general audience and accompanied by photos, audio, and video.


We will grant free registration to credentialed full-time journalists and professional freelance journalists working on assignment for major news outlets. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, please contact Jason Bardi (, 301-209-3091), who can also help to set with setting up interviews and obtaining images, sound clips, or background information.


The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science of technology of sound. Its 7,500 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world's leading journal on acoustics), Acoustics Today magazine, books and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. For more information about ASA, visit our website at

Devin Powell | Newswise Science News
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