A new study published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism shows that high cholesterol levels could impair fertility, making it harder for couples to conceive.
The researchers were investigating the theory that blood cholesterol might be related to fertility as the body uses cholesterol to manufacture sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all cells of the body. We need cholesterol to make a number of substances, including hormones and vitamin D. While high blood cholesterol levels typically do not cause any signs or symptoms, they can increase the chances for heart disease.
Researchers for the current analysis studied 501 couples from four counties in Michigan and 12 counties in Texas from 2005 to 2009 who were trying to conceive a child but were not being treated for infertility . .
The volunteers provided blood samples, which were tested for free cholesterol, that it the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, as opposed to the usual cholesterol subtypes: HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
The study found that on average, women who did not get pregnant during the duration of the study had the highest free cholesterol levels.
In general, high free cholesterol levels were correlated with longer times to pregnancy and lower level of fertility. 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.
The results suggest that couples wishing to achieve pregnancy could improve their chances by first ensuring that their cholesterol levels are in an acceptable range.