May 20, 2014
Science Daily/NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
High cholesterol levels may impair fertility in couples trying to achieve a pregnancy, according to a study. Couples in which each partner had a high cholesterol level took the longest time to reach pregnancy.
Moreover, couples in which the woman had a high cholesterol level and the man did not also took longer to achieve pregnancy when compared to couples in which both partners had cholesterol levels in the acceptable range.
"We've long known that high cholesterol levels increase the risk for heart disease," said the study's first author, Enrique Schisterman, Ph.D., chief of the Epidemiology Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the institute that led the study.
"In addition to safeguarding their health, our results suggest that couples wishing to achieve pregnancy could improve their chances by first ensuring that their cholesterol levels are in an acceptable range."
The researchers found that on average, those couples in which the female did not become pregnant during the study duration had the highest free cholesterol levels. In general, high free cholesterol levels were correlated with longer times to pregnancy and lower fecundability odds ratios.
Couples in which the female had a high cholesterol level and the male did not also took longer to achieve pregnancy when compared to couples in which both partners had cholesterol levels in the acceptable range. In their analysis, the study authors accounted for potential racial differences, as well as differences by age, body mass index, and education.
"From our data, it would appear that high cholesterol levels not only increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, but also reduce couples' chances of pregnancy," Dr. Schisterman said.