Heavy Lifting, Shift Work Affect Fertility
According to a recent study involving women undergoing fertility treatment, those who regularly lift heavy objects at work or work at night have lower levels of certain biological markers that indicate fertility. Earlier studies have also shown a link between shift work or heavy lifting at work and reproductive health—including irregular menstrual cycles, increased miscarriage risk, and difficulty conceiving—but this is the first to measure biological markers for fertility.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital evaluated nearly 500 women undergoing fertility treatment from 2004 to 2015. For the study, participants were asked about their work schedules and the physical demands of their jobs, and researchers assessed a number of biomarkers for fertility, such as antral follicles (small structures in the ovaries that can be used to estimate the number of immature eggs in the ovaries) and the number of mature eggs produced as a result of infertility treatment.
Women who reported lifting or moving heavy objects at work had five percent fewer antral follicles and 14 percent fewer mature eggs than those who did not lift or move heavy objects at work. Those who reported working at least some night or evening shifts had 24 percent fewer mature eggs than women who worked only days. More research is needed to determine if avoiding shift work and heavy lifting at work could help improve fertility.
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