Women who do heavy manual labor or work the graveyard shift may be less fertile than other women, a new study suggests.
Researchers analyzed the fertility of 473 women and found that women who reported moving heavy objects at work had 8.8 percent fewer total eggs and 14.1 percent fewer mature eggs when compared to women who did not have physically demanding work. Women who worked night shifts or rotating shifts also had a smaller mature egg count.
Unlike previous studies that have looked at the relationship between occupation and fertility, this research looked at a comparison of occupational demands to biomarkers, characteristics in the body to help determine normal or abnormal processes. Researchers explored biomarkers for fertility including hormone levels and egg numbers.
Even with these results, the findings are not completely conclusive. A direct correlation between work demands and fertility could not be proven, and this study did not look at how occupation affected chances of actually having a baby. Researchers also point out that other environmental factors of the work place could affect “egg quality.”
Lead author Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón from in the Department of Environmental Health at T.H. Chan School of Public Health says the “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.”
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Jane Snyder is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer and photojournalist based out of Athens, Georgia.