The scientists continue to study the effect of everyday products and surroundings on women’s reproductive health. Following the news that junk food increases time needed to get pregnant, a new study from Italy found that environmental factors such as pollution affects female reproductive health just as much if not more.
The biggest contributing factor to a decline in potential fertility remains a woman’s age, but daily exposure to high levels of air pollution was proved to be an important factor as well. Italian researchers examined 1,318 women living in Italy to analyze the effects of exhaust fumes on female fertility. The hormone measurements showed that women living in the most polluted areas were 3 times more likely to show sign of an earlier menopause that those who lived in cleaner surroundings.
Apparently, the air pollution negatively affects anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH), which is responsible for eggs’ viability when they are released from the ovary. From a practical point of view, while this does not represent a short-term problem for women trying to conceive, it might indicate that high levels of air pollution can be responsible for long-term consequences such as a shorter opportunity to fall pregnant or even an earlier menopause.
Women with a high AMH have a longer reproductive lifespan, which is significant to those undergoing IVF. If woman’s AMH is high, she will have higher number of eggs after hormonal stimulation, which will turn into a higher number of embryos.
“Living in an area associated with high levels of air pollutants in our study increased the risk of severely reduced ovarian reserve by a factor of two or three,” says Antonio La Marca at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy, who presented the finding at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting in Vienna. The results have not yet been peer-reviewed.
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Based on the article by Independent