A team of researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently discovered that heavy lifting seriously impacts a woman’s fertility, even more so among those who suffer from chronic conditions or battle with weight-related issues. The paper in detail has been published on Monday, February 6th in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Furthermore, the researchers also discovered that working in shifts can reduce a woman’s fertility just as equally. However, the scientists were unable to pinpoint the exact cause of this and more research is needed. Nevertheless, health experts recommend women in their reproductive years to consider the findings so far when trying to conceive.
A researcher with the Department of Environmental Health and lead author of the study, Lidia Minguez-Alarcon recommends women who plan on having a baby to stay clear of non-day shift work schedules and heavy lifting to protect their reproductive health.
Similar studies conducted in the past also found links between shift work, or physically demanding jobs and reduced fertility. However, the latest research focused on direct biomarkers for fertility in the subjects’ bodies, such as hormone levels and egg count.
Hence, the team of scientists looked at over 470 female subjects undertaking fertility treatment and compared their job schedules and physical demanding chores against four biomarkers associated with fecundity, commonly known as the ability to reproduce. The said biomarkers included estrogen levels, the amount of immature eggs in the subjects’ bodies, the number of mature eggs able to develop into healthy embryos upon fecundation, and the levels of hormones that regulated reproductive processes.
The researchers observed that the more demanding a physical activity was and heavier the objects the subjects were lifting, the lower the count of mature and immature eggs. Hence, women who reported lifting or moving heavy objects had 14.1 percent fewer mature eggs and 8.8 percent fewer total eggs compared to their counterparts who were not required to move heavy objects at their jobs. Audrey Gaskins, senior author of the study and an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School thus concluded that the occupational exposure directly impacts egg quality and production. Ultimately, the reduction was even greater in obese or overweight women over the age of 37.
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