Scientists investigate link of workload and pregnancy among women working long hours

A recent study found that women who work full-time or carry heavy loads for a living may have delayed or difficult pregnancies.

The U.S. study published in the journal, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, found that women who worked more than 40 hours a week may experience “longer median duration of pregnancy attempt” compared to women who have lesser work hours. In addition, women who do several heavy moving or lifting of more than 25-pound loads a day may also experience delayed pregnancies.

For the study, lead author and researcher Audrey Gaskins from Boston’s Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and colleagues looked at more than 1,700 nurses who were trying to conceive. Based on their estimate, 16 percent of the women won’t be able to conceive within 12 months and five percent of the number won’t be pregnant after attempting for two years.

According to Reuters, half of the participants in the study are more than 33 years and old and approximately 45 percent are overweight or obese; more than 20 percent are both former and current tobacco smokers.

“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,” said Gaskins in an email to Reuters.

Reproductive health specialist Courtney Lynch, who isn’t involved in the research, told Business Insider that the women in the study may struggle to get pregnant due to their schedule and their energy levels.

“If this effect is real, it is likely due to the fact that these women are having less frequent intercourse due to their work demands,” Lynch said.

A normal fertile couple will be able to conceive within six months up to two years. Other factors that contribute to delays in pregnancy may include the age, diet, and lifestyles of the couple, the regularity of intercourse, weight, and other reproductive conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, Baby Centre explained.

To improve chances of conception, the website advises couples to have intercourse every two to three days instead of every day as this may affect the quality of the sperm. This should also be in conjunction with the fertile days of the woman in her menstrual cycle.


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