Cholesterol is an essential fat your body needs to function normally and to achieve overall health. Cholesterol is produced naturally in your body, but also absorbed in the food you eat.
If you have high cholesterol, it begins to build up in your arteries, which can make it harder for blood to flow properly throughout your body. When buildup occurs, it can also lead to life-threatening risks such as a heart attack or stroke.
But, what if high cholesterol was causing other health problems, like your ability to reproduce?
Researchers from the U.S. government's health research arm tracked the results of 401 couples that were trying for a baby. Researchers looked at women between the ages of 18 and 44 that were not known to have fertility issues. Over the course of a year, 347 of the women became pregnant, while 54 did not.
Researchers made it clear that they aren't entirely sure why cholesterol affects fertility, but they do know that cholesterol is essential to the union between sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone) in your body.
Even though you may not have a family history of high cholesterol, depending on your lifestyle -- such as bad eating habits and if you're not working out -- you may have an increased risk of developing high cholesterol.
What else do you need to know about high cholesterol and fertility?
Senior investigator and chief of the Epidemiology Branch of NICHD, Enrique F. Schisterman, PhD, discusses his findings in a study comparing fertility and high cholesterol.