Can Pesticides Damage IVF Success?

IVF and Pesticides

Pesticides are widely used on fruit and vegetables even though they have been linked with health issues such as ADHD in children, brain and nervous system damage and certain types of cancer

Is there a link between IVF success and pesticides? A new study suggests that there is.

The Study

Harvard University leads the way in many fields and one of these is IVF. This study was carried out by world-renowned fertility expert Dr Jorge Chavarro of Harvard. He looked at the amount pesticides consumed by women undergoing various assisted reproduction techniques including IVF.

For the study 325 women kept a record of the fruit and vegetables they consumed each day.

Dr Chavarro and his team then categorised the fruits and vegetables according to the levels of pesticide residue typically found on them using data compiled by the US Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program.

The researchers found that the women who consumed more than 2.2 servings per day of fruit and vegetables with high pesticide residues were 18% less likely to become pregnant during their treatment and 26% less likely to have a live birth compared to women who ate less than one serving per day.

The full study is available on here if you would like to read it(Association Between Pesticide Residue Intake From Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables and Pregnancy Outcomes Among Women Undergoing Infertility Treatment With Assisted Reproductive Technology. JAMA Intern Med. 2018 Jan 1; 178(1): 17–26).

Based on this study it is reasonable to conclude that IVF and pesticides are a bad combination. Why could this be? One possible explanation is that many of the chemicals used in pesticides are “endocrine disrupters” or, in plain English, substances that mimic hormones in our bodies.

Becoming pregnant either naturally or with assistance requires a delicate balance and cascade of hormones and anything that interferes with this is bad news.

If you are undergoing IVF or looking to conceive naturally what can you do to minimise your consumption of pesticides?

You certainly should not avoid all fruit and vegetables. Provided that they are free of pesticides they are critical to health. Here are a few things you can do to reduce your exposure to pesticides:

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We were given a 1% chance but still had two beautiful children.


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