Just in case you needed another reason to stay away from artificial sweeteners, a new study has revealed that diet colas can actually interfere with your chances of becoming pregnant during IVF, or in vitro fertilization.

Could women be unintentionally reducing their chances of becoming pregnant by their food and beverage selections?

According to this new research, led by Gabriela Halpern of the Fertility Medical Group based in Brazil, that might just be the case. The scientists began their study by recruiting 524 women who were undergoing IVF treatment at a fertility clinic. The women were asked about their dietary habits, including their consumption of diet soda and artificial sweeteners. The researchers recorded which women opted to use sugar in their coffee and other drinks, and which preferred to use sugar substitutes.

Over a period of two years, the researchers were able to analyze 5,548 egg cells taken from the women while they were going through their fertility treatments. During examination, the scientists noted any cell abnormalities that appeared to be present. They also monitored the progress of each egg after it was impregnated with sperm to form an embryo two or three days later.

What the researchers discovered was that women who drank sugary beverages or those that drank beverages sweetened with sugar substitutes were both more likely to produce defective eggs. These women also had embryos that were less likely to experience successful implantation.

The Brazilian scientists commented, “The general population believes that artificial sweeteners are healthier than regular sugar, and is not aware of the dangers hidden behind the promise of reduced calorie food and beverages. Patients should be advised about the adverse effect of sugar and mainly artificial sweeteners on the success of assisted reproduction.”

The chair of the British Fertility Society, Adam Balen, has commented that this study produced some very interesting results. He told the Daily Mail, “These findings are highly significant and relevant to our population. There should be more scrutiny of food additives and better information available to the public and, in particular, those wishing to conceive.” Balen also noted that the environment for a developing egg is very delicate and sensitive to external influences; he posits that the potential effects of food additives on reproductive health should not be discounted, and should be taken more seriously.

Of course, this research is not without scrutiny. Many other scientists have commented that the weight of the women in the study could also be an influential factor. Obesity is known to have a negative impact on fertility, and many overweight or obese women use sugar substitutes to aid weight loss efforts. The study did fail to address this particular factor, and the researchers did not adjust their calculations accordingly.

Regardless, the fact remains that these findings have at the very least brought forth a substantial concern about sugar and sugar substitute consumption while trying to conceive. One could argue that for women who are undergoing IVF, a little extra caution might be worthwhile to help support their chances of getting pregnant, especially in lieu of this possible connection. While this study does not provide evidence of causation, the suggestion of at least a possible correlation could be considered enough to warrant abstinence from sugar and sugar substitute-laden foods and drinks.

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