Infertility is a common problem, affecting between 10 and 15% of adult couples. Infertility is often defined as the inability to conceive after one year of regular sexual intercourse, without the use of contraception. Today we give a hint for women who may have this problem.
While estimates vary, about 1/3 of cases are due to a problem with the woman’s reproductive system. Another 1/3 of couples are infertile due to problems with the man, and the other 1/3 are a mixture of issues from both the man and the women, or of unknown problems.
A study just published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine concluded that women who work evenings or nights, or whose work involves moving heavy objects, have a higher risk of infertility. The researchers, from the Harvard Medical School, studied 473 women between the ages of 18 and 45. The average age of the women was 35, and their average Body Mass Index was 23 (not obese).
The researchers counted the number of immature and mature eggs in the women’s ovaries by trans-vaginal ultrasound. They also measured the women’s estrogen and follicle stimulating hormone levels at day 3 of their menstrual cycle.
Fewer eggs in some women
The results showed that women who worked at times other than regular daytime hours and/ or whose work involved moving heavy objects, had 8.8% fewer immature eggs and 14.4% fewer mature eggs available for potential fertilization. The night work and heavy lifting effect was even greater for women older than 35, or who had a Body Mass Index greater than 25 (obese).
The researchers were not sure of the reasons for this effect, but it is known that night work, which disrupts the normal circadian rhythm, is a stress on the body that can have multiple negative effects, including obesity and a higher risk of breast cancer.
Other issues with infertility
This researchers now want to study if women who work nights and do heavy lifting will have better fertility if they move to day jobs and stop the heavy lifting. In the meantime, this study suggests that if you are trying to maximize your chance of conceiving, that you consider these factors.
Other factors that influence fertility in women include being significantly underweight or overweight, stress, poor diet, smoking, excessive alcohol, and too much exercise. If you are having problems with fertility, a wise choice would be to discuss your situation with an obstetrician-gynecologist or fertility specialist. And, bring your male partner, as he might be all or part of the problem.
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