During Ramadan, Muslims across the world fast from dawn until sunset, refraining from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex during this time. It is a time for spiritual reflection, self-discipline, and devotion and to feel closer to Allah or god.
If you are a Muslim observing Ramadan and trying to conceive you might be wondering how it might impact your fertility. Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a form of intermittent fasting that has many health benefits.
Firstly, it is important to understand that fasting during Ramadan is nothing new. Muslims have been fasting during this month for centuries. During this time, the body adjusts to the new routine, and many people report feeling energised and focused. However, fasting for long periods can lead to changes in the body that may impact fertility.
How a Ramadan fact can affect fertility
There are numerous benefits of joining in with a Ramadan fast, for example, weight loss and reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, to name just a couple.
One potential effect of fasting on fertility is a decrease in the production of sex hormones. This can occur because the body is not getting enough energy and nutrients to maintain normal hormonal levels. Low levels of sex hormones can affect both male and female fertility. For men, low levels of testosterone can decrease sperm production and quality. For women, low levels of estrogen and progesterone can disrupt ovulation and lead to irregular menstrual cycles.
Another potential effect of fasting on fertility is weight loss. Many people lose weight during Ramadan due to restricted eating hours. While weight loss can have many health benefits, it can also impact fertility, and this effect can be either positive or negative, depending on your starting weight.
In women, excessive weight loss can disrupt the balance of hormones needed for ovulation.
In men, weight loss can decrease testosterone levels and affect sperm production.
It is important to note that the effects of fasting on fertility vary from person to person. Some people may experience no changes in fertility, while others may experience temporary or long-term effects.
If you are trying to get pregnant, speak with your GP about your plans to fast during Ramadan. They can provide personalised guidance and advice based on your current health and situation.
Infertility treatment during Ramadan
It’s understood that fasting during Ramadan has no significant effects on those undergoing IVF or ICSI or the outcomes of fertility procedures. It has, however, been noted that fasting can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. That are often, understandably, associated with the process.
Practicing fasting may actually enhance fertility and does not pose any restrictions on fertility treatments.
However, adjustments can be made in the timing of medications and injections to ensure the best outcomes.
It’s important to consider the phase of your menstrual cycle during Ramadan, as fasting can cause metabolic changes that may affect implantation. Additionally, fasting may not be suitable for individuals at an increased risk of OHSS, and it’s recommended to consult your doctor before proceeding.
Should I fast if I am pregnant?
If you have just found out you are pregnant, congratulations! Islam exempts pregnant or breastfeeding women from fasting during Ramadan. However, for some women, this can be a difficult adjustment, especially when everyone else around you is fasting. Remember, choosing not to fast during pregnancy keeps you and your baby healthy and you can always make up for missed fasts at a later date. It’s still entirely possible to be involved in Ramadan without fasting. You can cut back on treats such as chocolate and cake instead and take part in all the other spiritual aspects of the month.
We understand that fasting is a deeply personal decision, and if you decide to still take part, please speak to your midwife or doctor for advice and support.
Generally speaking, trying for a baby or undergoing fertility treatment such as IVF during Ramadan doesn’t have any significant effects on your fertility. However, if you are struggling to conceive it is always best to seek advice from your doctor. If you find out you are pregnant during Ramadan, it is not recommended to fast for health reasons and Islam also exempts you from fasting. Are you taking part in a Ramadan fast this month? Let us know in the comments!