Artificial light can affect female reproductive health

Dr. Himanshu Chaudhary
Artificial lights have known to affect the female reproductive health according to many studies published in various journals. With high levels of artificial lighting in the evening, changing shift work patterns, the sleep pattern gets disturbed that further leads to disrupting the natural circadian rhythm and signaling the brain to produce less melatonin.
One of the major sources of artificial lights, now days, are electronic gadgets that are known to disrupt the sleep patterns. These emitted lights signal the brain to stay awake by manipulating the production of hormone called melatonin. With less production of melatonin, the body clock goes out of sync and impacts the heath severely, especially woman’s reproductive health
According to the study published in the journal ‘Fertility and Sterility’, exposure to artificial light in the night has adverse effects on the women’s reproductive health. Staying in no-light is necessary for ensuring female fertility and better development of the fetus during pregnancy. Mobile phones are one such device that is almost used by everyone and late night usage indirectly leads to sleep deprivation. This in turn raises the stress level which is a contributing factor to infertility.
The direct cause includes the artificial light that hinders with the production of melatonin causing irregular sleep pattern. Melatonin is a hormone that is released in the body automatically from the pineal glands in the darkness causing drowsiness thereby helping to sleep. During ovulation, this chemical helps in protecting women’s eggs from damage due to its strong anti-oxidant properties. This eliminates the free radicals from the body preventing the eggs from being damaged.
Suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is a region of the brain that controls the circadian rhythm, and many researches done at the Osaka University, The UCLA and Japan science and technology agency prove that the menstrual cycle in female is affected with over exposure to artificial lights.
In females this leads to irregular menses, decreases the chances of pregnancy, raises the chances of misconception and still birth. There is a decrease in the sperm quality among male with the increased exposure to artificial light. Women trying to conceive are thus advised to get a sound eight hours of sleep in the dark, to stimulate melatonin, preventing the disturbance in the biological clock.
Moreover, even pregnant women have critical impact on her health as well as the developing baby’s health with prolonged exposure to artificial and blue lights from electronic devices. Minimum eight hours of sleep in the darkness is mandatory for the fetus development, and with such sleep deprivation, if the fetus does not get the adequate amount of melatonin from the mother, the chances of getting congenital abnormalities like ADHD and autism increases which is attributed to the disturbance caused in their body clock.
Thus, it is extremely important to understand that a good eight hours sound sleep, healthy diet and staying away from artificial light for long hours specially at night are essential for maintaining fertility.
(The author is a Gynaecologist & IVF expert)