Long Hours, Heavy Workloads May Lead To Difficulty Conceiving A Baby [Study]

Although the reason why isn’t clear, working long hours, such as 12-hour shifts or more than 40 hours a week, and routinely having to lift and pull heavy objects, has been correlated to women taking 20 percent longer to get pregnant than their non-long-shift, heavy-lifting peers, according to FIGO.

Lead study author Dr. Audrey J. Gaskins, of the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues concluded their findings by statistically analyzing the data of 1,739 women who had a mean age of 33 and who were part of the 2010-2014 Nurses’ Health Study, and all of the women were trying to get pregnant.

Researchers assessed subjects in the study every six months to determine how long it was taking them to become pregnant. They controlled for “confounding factors” such as obesity and smoking, which both can contribute to difficulty conceiving. 44% of the nurses were overweight or obese by BMI standards. Although more study is needed in this area, researchers have concluded that it’s not the profession of nursing that leads to longer time in conception — it is the activities and hours involved, which would make the study applicable to women of other occupations, such as factory workers. Dr. Gaskins told MNT that they are unsure why this is occurring.

“Our results show that heavy work, both in terms of physical strain and long hours, appears to have a detrimental impact on female nurses’ ability to get pregnant. While we tried to control for many variables that could potentially explain this association – such as menstrual cycle regularity, sleep duration and other potentially harmful lifestyle and work exposures – none of these factors seemed to completely explain these relationships. There were some variables, however, that we lacked in our study, such as frequency of sexual intercourse and work-related strain and fatigue. Because of this, it is hard to determine whether these relationships are being driven by other correlated lifestyle exposures or something more biological, such as dysregulation of circadian rhythm.”

While correlation does not equal causation, it’s easy to understand that women who work long hours or different shifts than their partners may be having less sex or less ability to time sexual intercourse to ovulation, which was not controlled for in this study.

It takes the average fertile couple three months to become pregnant, assuming they are having sex biweekly. During this study, 16 percent of nurses were not pregnant after trying for 12 months, and 5 percent were not pregnant after two years. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, other things can affect fertility. You can read about that here.

[Image by Getty]