Do you work in shifts? Research shows that shift work can alter normal reproductive functionality and cycles, leading to reproductive health problems.
The body’s circadian system works in a unique way. You have probably noticed that you feel energized at a particular time of the day and start to get drowsy when the clock ticks a certain other time of the day. This happens on a daily schedule, and the body responds automatically, thanks to the circadian system. A significant population of the working force works in shifts due to economic and personal reasons. Unfortunately, there has been growing concern that shift work affects women’s fertility by disrupting the circadian rhythm. How true is this? Let us find out.
What Is the Circadian Rhythm?
Just like the earth rotates on a clock, timing the sunset and sunrise, so does your body. Your circadian rhythm works like a 24-hour clock that is installed at the back of your head that controls the brain and body through alert and drowsy sessions. This sleep-wake cycle differs among individuals depending on their schedules and whether they are morning people or night owls.
What Is the Link Between Circadian Rhythms and Fertility?
Circadian rhythms significantly affect potency cycles, copulation, and pregnancy. Shift work often results in inconsistent sleeping patterns and jet lag. These conditions alter the normal circadian rhythms, which eventually affects the reproductive cycle and functions. Depending on the severity of the imbalances, an individual may suffer from hormonal imbalances, decreased conception rates, high miscarriage rates, and increased chances of developing chronic conditions, such as diabetes.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than half of the general population had shift-work schedules at some point in life. This allows most of them to have more than one job because most shift work falls between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. Most of the shift work is in the military, security, and healthcare industries. A fair percentage of shift workers get to adapt to the new schedules after a short-term disruption, while some continue to struggle long after their shift changes.
With these changes, most women will struggle to get pregnant or carry their pregnancies to term. If you don’t give your body adequate attention, care and rest, you may start experiencing irregular periods and related issues that make it hard to conceive.
What Are the Remedies?
Studies make it clear that shift work can impact your reproductive health negatively. Although some women adapt in the end and their potency levels come back to normal, others will continue to be affected by altered circadian rhythms. If you are planning to conceive, it is essential to stabilize your work and sleep cycle to increase the chances of successful conception.
You may consider talking to your managers about the shift work or dropping it altogether for another type of work that will allow you to raise fertility levels. You may also talk to a doctor to find out if he or she can prescribe medication to help you adjust to your new sleep and work patterns if the shift work is unavoidable. You may also want to be open with your doctor about the kind of medication you’ve been taking to either stay alert or fall asleep.
While struggling with fertility can be stressful, it is important to note that some of the conditions leading to it can be controlled and regulated.