Fast Food & Pregnancy: Could You Be Risking Infertility?

According to the most recent statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 6.1 million women living in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant. Women who can get pregnant, but are unable to stay pregnant, may also be considered infertile. This is an average of approximately 10 percent of all women between the ages of 15 and 44. The CDC reports many factors that may affect a woman’s fertility.

A new study conducted in Australia has concluded that the foods women eat could be placing them at risk of infertility. Moreover, researchers found that when women who are of childbearing age consume a regular diet of fast food, their chances of infertility doubled.

The research study, which was published on May 3 in the scientific journal Human Reproduction, included 5,600 women ranging in age from 18 to 43. All of the women were in the first trimester of their first pregnancy. Although the women who partook in the study were already pregnant when the research began, midwives in charge of looking after the women conducted interviews regarding their diet in the month before they became pregnant, as well as how long it took them to conceive.

Lead research author Claire Roberts stated that the major finding of the study is “that the risk of infertility, taking longer than 12 months to conceive, went from 8 percent for all the women in the cohort to 12 percent…in women with the lowest fruit intake.” Conversely, increasing the amount of fruit eaten throughout the day leads to a reduction in the amount of time it takes to conceive.

“There was also an increase from 8 to 16 percent in the risk of infertility in women who ate four or more servings of fast food each week.”

This study only shows an association between what a woman eats and their chances of conceiving a child. Much more research is needed on the topic of infertility to fully understand how diet affects conception.

Live Science reported that Dr. Raj Mathur, who is acting secretary of the British Fertility Society, stated that the new findings will be useful for women who are trying to get pregnant. The study will also help clinicians and physicians find ways to assist their patients.

Mathur further stated that the research is directly in line with other studies that “show your overall dietary pattern may influence fertility.” If there is one takeaway from this study, Mathur said, it is that “processed foods are bad, and fresh fruit and vegetables are good for fertility.”

The study did not take a look at the reasons why fast food doubles the risk factor for infertility. Earlier research on the topic, however, indicates that the quality of a woman’s eggs may be affected by a diet filled with fatty acids. When consumed, the fatty acids enter the bloodstream, thereby affecting a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.