Women who eat lots of fast foods may take longer to become pregnant and be more likely to experience infertility than women who rarely, if ever, eat fast food meals, a recent study from the University of Adelaide in Australia suggests.
Compared to women who generally avoided fast food, women who indulged four or more times a week before they conceived took almost a month longer to become pregnant, the study of 5,598 first-time mothers in Australia, New Zealand and the UK found.
While women who rarely or never ate fast food had an 8 percent risk of infertility, the risk was 16 percent among women who ate fast food at least four times weekly.
How fast food may impact fertility
Fast foods contain high amounts of saturated fat, sodium, and sometimes sugar.
Although these dietary components and their relationship to fertility has not been specifically studied in human pregnancies, higher amounts of saturated fatty acids were identified in egg cells in the ovary of women undergoing assisted reproduction.
As well, studies in mice have demonstrated that a high fat diet had a toxic effect on the ovaries.
The researchers believe that fast food may be one factor mediating infertility through altered ovarian function.”
Roughly 1 in 10 women of childbearing age have difficulty getting pregnant. Most of the time, it’s caused by problems with ovulation, often related to a hormone imbalance known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Some signs that a woman is not ovulating normally include irregular or absent menstrual periods.
Less-common causes of infertility in women can include blocked fallopian tubes, structural problems with the uterus or uterine fibroids.
The risk increases with age, and can also be exacerbated by smoking, excessive drinking, stress, an unhealthy diet, too much exercise, being overweight or obese or having sexually transmitted infections.
Women in the current study were typically overweight and most of them ate fast food at least twice a week.
Low fruit intake linked to infertility
Researchers also found that women who ate fruit less than once a month took half a month longer to become pregnant than women who ate at least three fruit servings a day.
With the lowest fruit intake, the risk of infertility was 12 percent, compared to 8 percent with the highest fruit consumption.
The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how the amount of fruit or fast food women consume might impact their fertility. Another limitation is that researchers relied on dietary questionnaires women completed during prenatal visits that asked them to recall how they ate in the month before they conceived, a method that isn’t always accurate.
Still, the current study offers new evidence of the role diet can play in helping women conceive.
It’s in line with other studies showing that preconception intake of fruits and fish increase fertility.
Source: Human Reproduction, online May 4, 2018.
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