Studies have indicated that women who work more than 40 hours a week take 20% longer to conceive than women who work 21-40 hours per week. Similarly, women who lift heavy weight over 50 pounds as part of their work take longer to conceive than women who don’t lift weights.
This evolutionary adaptation makes sense in primitive civilizations, where more demanding hours and grueling labor might signal an imbalance in gender roles (men, perhaps, away at war and women working more vigorously at lifting heavy loads) or in scarcity. In the modern economy, however, women’s work is very often their choice of work, bearing little impact on their ability to successfully carry a pregnancy to term once conception takes place.
It’s these small adaptations that contribute to an eventual complexity in the fertility process. Combined with known chemical compounds leading to declining fertility in industrial nations, the general decline in men’s sperm count and motility, and a host of other factors, fertility medicine is often the only possibility for returning to what we once expected of the fertility timeline.
None of this is within an individual’s direct control, despite popular anecdotes to the contrary. And while time to rest can’t change your work schedule or type of work, it can give you a break from the daily grind whether there’s an impact on fertility or not!