Can Trans Fats Cause Infertility

For women struggling with their fertility, options and therapies can sometimes feel overwhelming. 

Thankfully, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition offers up a simple, low cost solution to increasing your fertility levels. The secret they discovered? Trans fat might just be affecting more than your waistline.

According to the report, women whose diets were made up of 2% of trans fat were found to have a 73% higher risk from ovulatory infertility, a condition in which eggs fail to be produced. That number got even more remarkable when researchers looked at healthier options. 

The initial 73% figure came from women who had switched from consuming 2% of their diets from carbohydrates to trans fats.  However, among women who instead replaced 2% of  omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (corn oil, canola, etc) with the trans fats, the risk increased up to 79%.  In the most extreme case, women switching from even healthier diets, replacing monounsaturated fats with trans fats, had their risks of ovulatory infertility more than double.

The study began in 1989. The researchers monitored 116,671 women, from ages 24 to 42.  Throughout the study, each woman’s case was updated annually, and every four years the women completed detailed surveys regarding their diet.

The research ultimately focused on 18,555 married women, who either became pregnant or faced fertility challenges between 1991 and 1999.  As the years went by, women who experienced ovulatory infertility – 438 in total – were compared with the other women in the study.  

Comparing both groups, the women experiencing ovulatory infertility were consistently consuming higher levels of trans fats.

What does it mean for me?

The findings offer a dire warning, but also a great opportunity.

For women looking to maximize their chances at fertility, the choice is clear to cut out trans fats, and replace them with healthier alternatives like omega-6 polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats.  

This simple change has the potential to dramatically increase your odds of pregnancy.  Given that impact of consuming trans fats scale – with the possibility of ovulatory infertility increasing 73 percent for every four grams of fat consumed in an 1800 calorie diet – it’s easy to see how trans fats can be a major risk factor for women looking to conceive.  By reducing your trans fats, you might just end up increasing the size of your family.

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