Ramadan and Fertility
With the arrival of Ramadan, Muslims around the world participate ranging in duration between 12-19 hours each day. Researchers explore the influence of fasting, if any, on fertility.
During Ramadan -- the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar -- able-bodied Muslims abstain from food, water, smoking, and sexual activity from sunrise to sunset each day. This is a form of intermittent fasting associated with a variety of health benefits including weight loss, reversal of insulin resistance, and reduced incidence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
But what about fertility?
A study conducted by the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Ain Shams University Maternity Hospital compared outcomes of IVF cycles between fasting infertile Muslim women with non-fasting matched controls and found an increased live birth rate in the fasting group, albeit insignificant. However, the fasting group also experienced a higher rate of complications during pregnancy and required higher doses and duration of induction agents. Anxiety and depression associated with the procedure was significantly lower in the fasting group, likely due to increased spirituality encouraged during the month of Ramadan.
While Muslims are not required to fast during pregnancy, many women choose to do so despite their increased nutritional demand. A study conducted by University of Burmingham researchers investigated the effect of fasting on pregnancy outcome by comparing infant birth weight and premature birth rate between babies estimated to be conceived during Ramadan (and born to Muslim mothers) with those that were not. They found no significant difference in either outcome between the two groups, suggesting that fasting during Ramadan does not have a significant effect on fetal weight or premature birth rate. Similar studies have found reduced maternal serum cortisol levels, low density lipid to high density lipid ratio, and rates of cesarean delivery in women that fasted during pregnancy.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that every case is different and there may be other factors like maternal health that may play a role in whether or not it is safe to fast before and during pregnancy. It's important to discuss your options with your medical care provider.