Fertility Research - How The Enviornment & Nutrition Affect Your Chances

Garden Acupuncture shares new information on environmental and nutritional research and the effects on your fertility and healthy pregnancy.

Unfortunately, humans conveniently forget that the communities we live in and the items we consume will also become part of us. So it makes sense that what we are exposed to can affect our health, including our fertility.

Research reported in the journal of Environmental Health Perspectives states that pollutants such as perchlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), industrial compounds and pesticides that are not longer manufactured but remain in older products can still decrease couples' ability to have children by 29%.

It is well documented that farmers and factory workers exposed to certain chemicals at high levels experience declines in fertility. What is yet to be studied is if those who are exposed to ubiquitous hormone disrupting chemicals at low levels also experience the same decline.

So scientists at the National Institute of Health (NIH) created the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE), the most comprehensive review of various environmental pollutants and their potential effect on pregnancy rates. The study is going to review both male and female reproductive health. The trial followed 500 couples who stopped using contraception for a period of 12 months or until they got pregnant. Researchers monitored their blood for the presence of 63 organic pollutants such as PCBs found in oil-based paint, electrical parts, adhesives, and pesticides that fail to degrade in the environment but are absorbed by livestock and then by people consuming fatty fish, meats, and dairy.

Each couple was given a kit to allow them to monitor fertility related hormones to optimize their chances for pregnancy. Each couple kept track of what they ate and other lifestyle behaviors in a daily journal. At then end of the study, researchers compiled the data and determined that for each unit increase in blood concentration of 12 pollutants a 17-29% decrease was noted for the odds of achieving pregnancy.

“This is a very special study and there haven’t really been others like it,” says Shanna Swan, a professor at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, who conducts research in fertility but was not involved in the LIFE study. “It is extremely well done and it demonstrates that chemicals do affect time to pregnancy. I think it’s going to be a game changer.”

One of the most striking findings of the study included the stronger associations between exposure to chemicals and fertility among men.  In comparison women had a decrease from 18-21%, while men had a decrease in the odds their partner would get pregnant at 17-29%.  In fact, the association for some of these chemicals is as strong as the association between reduced fertility and age.