For generations, there have been a number of widely accepted myths and misconceptions about women’s optimal fertility window and the role it plays in the ability to become pregnant. Many have been under the impression that it is determined solely by what is known as the “biological clock,” i.e. a term loosely defined by the time frame in which the body is developmentally ready and in its best condition to conceive and carry a healthy pregnancy. This belief is often accompanied by pressure to conceive before a certain age, preferably before the window of optimal fertility closes to prevent problematic pregnancies. Though our biological clocks do play a major role in fertility, conception and overall fetal development, new research published by The FASEB Journal has come forth to shed light on exactly how our body’s internal clocks determine prime conditions for implantation as well as healthy fetal growth and development.
Did you know that the womb has its own body clock?
How our body’s personal biological clocks determine optimal fertility conditions has long been associated with the chosen method of increasing fertility. Methods ranging from timing intercourse with ovulation, to diet and more. While these factors do play significant roles in a couples’ ability to achieve pregnancy, it has been made evident in recent years that the uterus actually possesses its own internal body clock which performs vital functions in correspondence with the maternal body clock. New research has emphasized the importance of synchronization between the maternal body clock and that of the womb. Evidence suggests that chances of pregnancy complication and even miscarriage are significantly higher when synchronization fails to occur. On a cellular level, body clock genes are partially responsible for ensuring that the lining of the uterus is prepared for embryo implantation and are vital for creating suitable uterine conditions for healthy fetal growth and development.
Implications of failed synchronization
Research suggests that approximately five percent of women will experience at least two miscarriages over the course of clinical implantation trials, with a rate of one percent experiencing a higher number of losses. Many women who have experienced reoccurring miscarriage are believed to be affected by this failure in synchronization. And those who are affected and do not experience miscarriage may still experience complications as the pregnancy progresses. Though the exact mechanisms of the clock gene’s involvement have yet to be defined, researchers are optimistic about what these new findings will mean in the future for the prevention of miscarriage and certain pregnancy complications related to this issue.
Could a lack of sleep be interfering with body clock synchronization?
The importance of a good night’s sleep should not be underestimated. Sleep allows the body to recuperate and repair the damage that is inflicted on it on a daily basis. And if the goal is successful conception, sleep should remain a top priority along with maintaining healthy diet and exercise habits. Healthy sleeping habits will also be beneficial throughout the pregnancy to sustain healthy embryo growth and development. Various studies have formed a relationship between less than adequate sleeping habits and reoccurring miscarriage. Work schedules—especially long or overnight shifts at times interfere with our ability to get adequate rest—have been shown to have adverse effects on fertility and the ability to carry full term. To ensure the best uterine conditions for healthy fetal growth and development it is important that work schedules be adjusted in a manner that will allow adequate time for sleep.
This article was written for informational purposes only and is not intended to represent or be used in place of advice from a licensed physician.