Intermittent Fasting Lowers Fertility Boosting Hormone In Women, Study Reveals

Participants of the study experienced a 14% reduction in DHEA levels, a hormone linked to fertility. 

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: Nov 02, 2022 16:20 IST
Intermittent Fasting Lowers Fertility Boosting Hormone In Women, Study Reveals

A recent study showed that intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating could reduce fertility-related hormone production in women. Pre- and post-menopausal women were a part of this study. It was found that Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a hormone recommended to enhance egg quality and ovarian function, showed decreased production.

These findings were published in the monthly journal Obesity. The study was conducted for a period of eight weeks by specialists from the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). The test group included women suffering from obesity;  some were menopausal.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

This is an eating pattern that cycles around periods of fasting and eating within fixed windows. There is a restriction on when to eat but not on what to eat. This can involve eating for a certain number of hours or keeping a 24-hour fast couple of times during the week.

Findings of the Study

In this study, participants had an eating window of four to six hours per day. During this time, they were allowed to consume food without counting calories. After this period was over, the participants followed a water fast, in which they could only have water.

Also read: Is Intermittent Fasting Always Healthy? Know About 6 Demerits Of This Diet Plan

Following this, weight loss of 3 to 4% was reported in women as compared to the beginning of the study. A control group, not following any diet, did not show any change in their weight.

Impact on Hormones

Experts also noted a 14% reduction in DHEA levels in both pre- and post-menopausal women. However, this drop falls in the normal range of the hormone.

Krista Varady, a professor in nutrition at UIC, who was part of the research group states, “The drop in DHEA levels in post-menopausal women could be concerning because menopause already causes a dramatic drop in oestrogen, and DHEA is a primary component of oestrogen.”

Also read: Intermittent Fasting and Keto Diet Can Hamper Cardiovascular Health: Study

In pre-menopausal women with obesity, the reduction in this hormone can be advantageous as it is associated with the risk of breast cancer. So, a moderate drop in the hormone can reduce the risk of breast cancer. “In pre-menopausal women, the minor drop in DHEA levels has to be weighed against the proven fertility benefits of lower body mass,” adds the researcher.

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