Join Date: July 2005
Careers & dieting making women infertile (article)
One of the best threads on this forum was the recent discussion about how women, during this recession, are leaving the workplace and returning to a more natural, relaxed, less stressful life.
If anyone needed more proof about why traditional gender roles, and traditional full-figured body shapes, are more natural and healthier for women, a new article in The Times
It shows that career women often render themselves infertile, both because of the stress of their jobs and because they starve and exercise-torture themselves into an androgynous shape. The results are physically devastating.
The article is a bit long, but it's worth reading in full.
Is your career making you infertile?
Recent research suggests a superwoman lifestyle can affect hormones and even body shape, damaging a woman's chances of having a baby
April 12, 2009
Go-getting women with highpowered jobs and salaries to match might appear to have it all. But results of a new study suggest that, unwittingly, these twenty and thirtysomethings are reducing their chances of having children by doggedly pursuing demanding careers.
Professor Elizabeth Cashdan, an anthropologist at the University of Utah, believes that the pressures that come with the superwoman lifestyle are to blame for hormonal and body shape changes that might affect fertility. The result? When it comes to starting a family, many women struggle to conceive.
In her research, published in a recent issue of the journal Current Anthropology, Cashdan found that career women were less likely to be curvaceous with the hourglass shape long associated with fertility and, instead, displayed the more masculine, straight-up-and-down figure that is less conducive to child-bearing.
With work stress and the drive to succeed, Cashdan says, comes a shift in hormonal balance that leads the female hormone, oestrogen, to be replaced by androgens, a class of hormones that includes testosterone and that are associated with strength, stamina and competitiveness.
One 2004 study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society suggested that women with hourglass figures had about 30 per cent higher levels of the female reproductive hormone, estradiol, compared with other body shapes and that, as a result, they were roughly three times more likely to get pregnant.
Large-breasted women have also been shown to have higher levels of oestrogen and progesterone, other female hormones linked to fertility.
“Although the hormonal profile associated with a high WHR may favour success in some stressful and difficult circumstances where women must work hard, there are well-known costs,” Cashdan says. “Women may suffer lower fertility and possibly lower attractiveness to men who may have an innate preference for curviness.”
Many of Britain's leading infertility experts are unsurprised by the findings. “Certainly, at my clinics we see predominantly very successful businesswomen who do not have hourglass figures,” says Laurence Shaw, associate director of the London Bridge Fertility, Gynaecology and Genetics Centre and a spokesperson for the British Fertility Society (BFS). “They are very slim, very straight-up-and-down.”
Dr Martin Tovee, a psychologist at Newcastle University who has studied the influences on female body shape, says that it is determined by a number of different factors, but that being a go-getter could be one of them. “We know that if women over-exercise or diet obsessively, then their oestrogen levels drop and they become less fertile,” Tovee says. “So, potentially, working hard could affect fertility too.”
Super-skinny women who under-eat to stay that way have long been known to risk compromised fertility. Several years ago, Rose Frisch, an associate professor at Harvard School of Public Health, explained how too few calories and too little body fat triggers a woman's brain to switch off her body's ability to reproduce by gradually restricting the flow of a hormone called leptin.
There is what Frisch has described as a “razor-thin borderline” where a drop of just 3lb can tip a normal-sized woman into infertility without her realising it. She may continue to menstruate, but might not ovulate during her cycle. If body-fat falls much lower, then amenorrhoea occurs when the menstrual cycle simply stops.
However, Cashdan's findings suggest that career women can become infertile even if they don't lose excessive weight. “The new study suggests that these driven women with high-achieving Type A personalities have a lesser oestrogenic state, which doesn't favour their chances of conceiving.”
The stress of some women's lifestyles also plays a significant role. In research at Emory University's School of Medicine in Atlanta, Professor Sarah Berga of the department of gynaecology and obstetrics, has shown how stress often triggers a cascade of events that result in reduced levels of two hormones crucial for ovulation. Women with hectic jobs on top of busy lives, she says, are most at risk.
In one of her studies, Berga found that women who didn't ovulate had excessive levels of the stress hormone cortisol present in their brain fluid, often due to trying to squeeze in too much work and exercise. “Your brain is hard to fool,” Berga says. “If you are under-eating, overworking and over-exercising, then the hypothalamus - the part of the brain that controls the release of hormones - keeps a running tally of what you are doing.”
Around 20 per cent of women who are infertile have problems with ovulation, and lifestyle factors, including anxiety and stress, are often to blame...
“Oestrogen makes someone relaxed, calm and thoughtful, the perfect state in which to become pregnant,” he says. “It is no biological mystery that so many studies have shown men are drawn to women who are curvaceous, indications of health and fertility.”
It's tragic that feminism has brainwashed women into thinking that they need to be wage-slaves, or need to out-men men.
If only women realized that a traditional relationship in which they would play the feminine role that nature intended for them would actually be healthier and more fulfilling for them, and would give them a better opportunity to have children and actually enjoy life.
Sadly, many women realize this only too late.