We know there are certain factors that can have an impact on fertility – age, weight and health for a start, but did your realise that your job can also affect a woman’s ability to conceive?
New research has revealed that heavy lifting and working night shifts has been linked to poor fertility in women.
The study, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found that a physically demanding jobs or work schedules outside normal office hours could take it’s toll on a woman’s fertility.
Researchers examined the ovarian reserve – the number of remaining eggs – and the levels of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) in 473 women attending a fertility clinic.
The average age of women taking part in the research was 35 and they had an average BMI of 23. Participants were quizzed about the jobs they did, as well as the level of physical exertion required for their roles and the hours and patterns worked.
They found that women with physically demanding jobs had a lower reserve of eggs than those whose work did not regularly require heavy lifting.
And among women going through IVF treatment, those with physically demanding jobs had a lower total reserve of eggs and fewer mature eggs.
The differences were even more pronounced among women working either evening, night or rotating shift patterns, as these women had fewer mature eggs than those working normal working hours. Researchers suggested this could be down to disruptions in the body clock.
“Our study suggests that women who are planning pregnancy should be cognizant of the potential negative impacts that non-day shift and heavy lifting could have on their reproductive health,” one of the study’s co-authors said in a statement.
However, the researchers noted that because their study only assessed women seeking fertility treatments, it isn’t clear whether the findings apply to women attempting to conceive naturally.
Previous studies have found links between certain aspects of a person’s job and fertility issues. For example, a 2015 study found a link between heavy lifting at work and irregular menstrual cycles, and a 2013 study found a link between night-shift work and an increased risk or miscarriage. But this is the first study to examine the biological markers of fertility.
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