Study Shows That Heavy Lifting and Shift Work Could Harm Women’s Fertility

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Recent study have shown that jobs that involve heavy lifting on a regular basis could reduce a woman’s fertility, most particularly among obese and overweight women.

Study Shows That Heavy Lifting and Shift Work Could Harm Women’s Fertility
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The research, which was published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, also found that working in the evenings or night or doing rotating shifts, may also impact female fertility.

More research is needed to verify the underlying cause of the findings. The team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health believes that women in their reproductive years, should take this into consideration when trying to conceive.

“The study suggests that women who are planning to get pregnant, should be familiar of the potential negative impacts that non-day shift and heavy lifting could have on their reproductive health,” that is according to Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, a fellow researcher in the Department of Environmental Health and lead author of the study.


Recent studies have shown potential associations between shift work, physically demanding jobs and reduced fertility. But this recent study explored direct bio-markers for fertility in the body, such as hormone levels and egg numbers to suggest possible mechanisms behind the change.

Reduced Egg Count

The researchers studied more than 470 women having fertility treatment and compared the schedules of their jobs and physical demands, against four biomarkers.  These include genes or characteristics in the body, which is known to be linked to their ability to reproduce, also called fecundity.

The biomarkers were the numbers of antral follicles, indicative of the number of immature eggs remaining in the body; estrogen levels; levels of follicle-stimulating hormone that regulated reproductive processes and the numbers of mature eggs capable of developing into healthy embryos.

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The heavier the moving or lifting of objects the women reported in their jobs, the lower the number of  mature egg and antral follicles.

The women who reported moving and heavy lifting had 8.8% fewer total eggs and 14.1% fewer mature eggs, as compared with women who never lifted or moved heavy objects at work.

This reduction in mature eggs was even greater in women who were also obese, overweight or over the age of 37. Women who worked rotating or night shifts, in the recent study also saw a reduction in the number of mature eggs.

However, no association was found between these aspects of the women’s occupation and their levels of estrogen and follicle-stimulating hormone.

The mechanisms which explains this link in the reduction of fertility are not known, but the researchers would like to explore further, as well as looking at whether this impact on fertility could be reduced, improved or avoided.

Shift work is not a biologically good way to work, as per one of the researchers.

So what does this study mean?

If you are trying to optimize fertility, stick to the morning job and leave the lifting to your partner.

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