Air Pollution Lowers IVF Success Rates

Air pollution and IVF

A new study suggests that we should take steps to avoid air pollution if we want to succeed with IVF.

Air pollution is a serious matter. Vehicles and industry pump waste chemicals into the environment 24/7. If you live in an urban area or near an industrial plant you are likely to be particularly exposed.

How serious is it? Well, the British Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health believe that 40,000 deaths in the United Kingdom each year are linked to pollution

The World Health Organisation estimates that pollution was responsible for 3.7m deaths worldwide in 2012.

Nasty, but does it affect IVF success?

The Study

The study was carried out by researchers at the School of Medicine at CHA University in South Korea. Researchers followed a group of 4,581 women who underwent 6,621 IVF cycles and looked at the effect of air pollution on their chances of success.

Specifically, they looked at four stages of the IVF process: stimulation, embryo transfer, pregnancy test and ultrasound (for more details of the IVF process please see our Ultimate Guide to IVF and calculated the levels of pollution each woman was exposed to using pollution data from the district where they lived.

The results were as follows:

If you would like to read more details, the study is available here (Association between ambient air pollution and pregnancy rate in women who underwent IVF. Hum Reprod. 2018 Apr 5).

So, it seems that air pollution can have a negative effect on IVF success and it would be wise to do what you can to avoid it. Realistically, however, there may be a limited amount that you can do. 

For example, if you live in an urban area and/or near an industrial plant your exposure levels are going to be higher than if you live in the country. Having said that there are some things you can do that will help to reduce your exposure:

These steps may not be possible all the time but the more you do the more you will limit your exposure to pollution.

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