A recently published study suggests that adverse work conditions such as long hours, night shifts and heavy lifting, may have a negative effect on female fertility. According to the researchers from the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health who conducted the study, such conditions may affect the activity of hormones necessary to support fertility.
Long and heavy work may result to more difficulties conceiving.
Researchers followed more than 1,700 women who have works outside the home (all employed as nurses) for around two years and assessed work hours and physical labor levels. The average age of the participants is 33 years, and all are trying to get pregnant. Only 16% of the participants had rotating shifts.
After 12 months, 16% of the participants failed to conceive, and that went down to 5% after 2 years. Researchers found that women may have to wait much longer to get pregnant if they work more than 40 hours per week and whose work required frequent heavy lifting (i.e. 25 pounds or more, 15 or more times a day). Chances of pregnancy are significantly lower for women who are obese or overweight, which in the study, is defined as BMI of more than 25. Other detrimental factors are smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
Evening shifts, duration of night shifts, and rotating and non-rotating night duties were not found to have any effect on fecundity.
Researchers suggest that their study showed a strong association between heavy physical work and problems in conceiving. This association persists even if the researchers excluded participants with irregular menstrual cycles. The results of the study are published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Nursing is known for its challenging work environment
, as nurses often have to face high workload and too high nurse-to-patient ratios daily. Many nurses cannot take adequate work breaks or even bathroom breaks.
According to the study, almost all that reported problems conceived within two years.
Researchers cited other possible reasons regarding why extended work hours is bad for women trying to get pregnant. Women may choose to work long hours to reduce anxiety levels
, which are high in couples with problem conceiving. In another perspective, long work hours may cause couples to have fewer time and opportunities for sex. It is to note that couples facing fertility issues are highly advised to increase the frequency
of sexual intercourse, and of course, stick to healthy lifestyle and regular exercise.
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