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Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2014;77(1):19-23. doi: 10.1159/000355112. Epub 2013 Oct 15.

Severe iron deficiency is associated with a reduced conception rate in female rats.

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Department of Epidemiology, Faculty of Public Health, Xi'an Jiaotong University College of Medicine, Xi'an, Shaanxi, PR China.



Iron deficiency is a global nutritional disorder, especially for pregnant women. There is a close relationship between deficiency in trace elements and unexplained infertility in females. However, the relationship between iron deficiency and unexplained infertility has not been determined. This study was designed to determine the effect of iron deficiency on conception in a rat model.


Female rats were randomly divided into two groups (n = 15 each): an iron-deficiency group fed a low iron diet and a normal control group. Both groups of female rats were mated with healthy male rats after the iron-deficiency model was established.


Iron-deficient rats developed white skin and eyes, hair loss, and weight loss. Hemoglobin levels and red blood cell count were significantly lower than in controls, showing successful establishment of the iron-deficiency model. There was a significantly lower conception rate in the iron-deficiency group; there also appeared to be a disruption of estrus and a delay in conception in the iron-deficiency group.


Severe iron deficiency has a significant influence on fertility, and may be an important factor in unexplained infertility. Further research on the role of iron in conception is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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