There is a wide range of factors that cause infertility or reduced fertility. According to a study by Pennsylvania State University, zinc deficiency could be among them. The substance appears to be essential in the early stages of oocyte development. When missing, the oocyte loses the ability to divide and be fertilized. For this reason, the zinc deficiency would affect the fertility of several months to come.
Most studies focus on the antral follicles, the most numerous and stimulated by the pituitary gland. The study in question, however, examines the preantral follicles. These are less numerous and still developing, therefore unable to respond to hormonal signals. The preantral follicles develop for about 90 days before being ready for ovulation. During the three months of their development, zinc plays an essential role.
The researchers analyzed the prenatal follicles of some guinea pigs and had them developed in vitro. They compared oocytes matured in zinc deficiency conditions and those matured under normal conditions. Furthermore, they exposed both growth factor groups to mimic ovulation. Oocytes matured without zinc were much less fertile and sometimes unable to divide.
The World Health Organization estimates that 17% of the global population suffers from zinc deficiency. However, the numbers indicate the most serious cases, leaving aside cases of moderate deficiency. Also within them there are both those who follow an unbalanced diet and those who suffer from particular diseases. The problem is therefore very common and the discovery could influence hundreds of women who can not conceive.