Working the late shift could take its toll on fertility


Shift work – those long overnight, twelve hour stints on the job – may affect fertility. Shift work leads to sleep deprivation and a disruption in circadian rhythm. It has been associated with increasing risk of poor health and loss of well-begin in some studies. Until now, little has been known about its effect on female infertility.

Shift work disrupts the cycle and impact fertility

Thanks to a new report, delivered at the annual ESHRE meeting, Dr. Linden Stocker of the Univeristy of Southampton, UK, revealed that working shift patterns does negatively impact menstruation cycles and create subfertility. This report compares the impact of non-standard working schedules (night shifts and split shifts) with that of more standard work schedules. The meta-analysis reviewed data on 119,345 women

Implications for the workplace

The numbers show that women working shifts (alternating, evenings and nights) had a 33% higher rate of menstrual disruption than those working regular hours. They also had an 80% increased rate of subfertility. “If replicated, our findings have implications for women attempting to become pregnant, as well as for their employers.”

Shift work may create a biological disturbance

“Whilst we have demonstrated an association between shift work and negative early reproductive outcomes, we have not proven causation. In humans, the long-term effects of altering circadian rhythms are inherently difficult to study. As a proxy measure, the sleep disruption demonstrated by the shift workers in our study creates short-and long-term biological disturbances. Shift workers adopt poor sleep hygiene, suffer sleep deprivation and develop activity levels that are out-of-sync with their body clock,” explained Dr. Stocker. “However, if our results are confirmed by other studies, there may be implications for shift workers and their reproductive plans. More friendly shift patterns with less impact on circadian rhythm could be adopted where practical…”

Source: ScienceDaily, ESHRE


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