If you’re a woman who is ready to embrace motherhood but finds it difficult to conceive, you should know that you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10% of American women in their early teens to mid-40s are struggling with infertility issues of some kind. In some of these cases, their infertility problems stem from stress. For context, a recent article published by U.S. News and World Report found that women who are stressed tend to have higher levels of alpha-amylase compared to women who are not. That said, leading a stressful life can indeed be a barrier to motherhood for some women.
For those not familiar with alpha-amylase, it is a digestive enzyme in saliva that is responsible for the decomposition of complex sugars to simple sugars. While alpha-amylase is necessary for good overall digestive health, too much of this enzyme can make it difficult for some women to get or stay pregnant. Along with stress, however, recent studies are now showing that infertility in women might also stem from consuming a fiber-rich diet.
What Needs to Happen for a Woman to Become Pregnant?
For a woman to get and stay pregnant, several things will have to take place in her body. And if they don’t happen, her dreams of becoming a mother will not come to fruition. These various physiological events include the following:
- An egg must be released from one of her ovaries.
- Once released, the egg must pass through the fallopian tube and reach the uterus.
- Sperm will have to fertilize the egg as it moves through the fallopian tube on its journey to the uterus.
- The fertilized egg will have to attach to the inside of the woman’s uterus, a process known as implantation.
All of these steps are essential for a woman to get and stay pregnant. That said, several studies are showing that ovulation, the female body’s ability to release an egg to the ovaries, can be interrupted if a woman consumes a fiber-rich diet.
What Is the Relationship Between High Fiber and Infertility?
There is a plurality of health benefits that come with consuming foods rich in fiber, including normalized bowel movements, reduced cholesterol and overall better digestive health. For these reasons, the American Heart Association recommends that adults consume between 25 and 30 grams of dietary fiber each day. However, a study published by Reuters is suggesting that doing so might not be a good idea for a woman trying to conceive. According to scientists and researchers involved in the study, along with normalizing bowel movements, reducing cholesterol and improving overall digestive health, women who consume the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber had lower estrogen levels and ovulated less compare to those who did not. And this is especially noteworthy given that ovulation is the first step in a woman’s journey toward becoming pregnant.
A Closer Look at the Details of the Study Relative to Ovulation and Higher Fiber
To better understand how scientists and researchers were able to establish a nexus between consuming the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber and a decline in ovulation, it helps know more about the details of the study. In total, the study comprised of 250 women between the ages of 18 and 44. The study participants were divided into two groups. In the first group, the women consumed fiber-rich foods, namely fruit. And in the second group, the women consumed little to no fiber at all. Those who consumed the recommended amount of fiber saw a significant decline in estrogen and other hormones necessary for reproduction compared to the second group that consumed little to no fiber.
It is important to note that all study participants were in otherwise good health and had normal menstrual cycles at the beginning of the study. At the end of the study, however, things were markedly different for the women in the first group. Researchers and scientists concluded that the women in the first group that consumed high amounts of fiber either developed or were at risk of developing anovulatory menstrual cycles. For reference, an anovulatory menstrual cycle is a medical term that describes an instance in which a woman skips ovulation, meaning her ovaries do not release an egg.
All in all, there is evidence that proves consuming too many fiber-rich foods can make it difficult for some women to get pregnant. However, researchers caution that these findings are relatively new and that more research is needed to fully understand how such a diet impacts a woman’s body when she is trying to conceive.