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November 29, 2023 | Life in Balance | admin

A Balanced Approach to Intermittent Fasting for Women in Childbearing Years

Written by: Monique Helou

Intermittent fasting (IF), which involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting, has gained significant popularity due to its potential health benefits [1]. However, for women of childbearing age, this strategy needs careful consideration as it can uniquely influence hormonal balance and fertility [2].

Understanding Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is not a diet but a pattern of eating. It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. Common methods include the 16/8 method, where you fast for 16 hours each day, and the 5:2 method, where you consume only around 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week [1].

Though intermittent fasting carries potential health benefits like improved blood sugar control, reduced inflammation, and enhanced brain function, it’s important to remember that research on its impact on female fertility and hormonal balance is still evolving [2].

Intermittent Fasting and Women’s Health

Women’s bodies are sensitive to energy intake, and changes in diet can significantly affect hormone levels and reproductive health [2]. This sensitivity is particularly crucial during the childbearing years, a critical period for reproductive health.

Research suggests that IF could potentially disrupt menstrual cycles and lead to fertility issues in women [3]. In addition, it could exacerbate problems for women with pre-existing hormonal imbalances, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) [4].

A Balanced Approach to IF

Despite these concerns, IF can still be an effective strategy for women during their childbearing years, provided it’s approached in a balanced way.

Firstly, it’s essential to ensure sufficient nutrient intake. IF is not about depriving the body of essential nutrients but organizing eating periods in a different manner [5]. Women should aim to meet their nutritional needs during their eating windows, emphasizing whole foods, lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Secondly, women may consider an adjusted method of intermittent fasting, such as a 12 to 14-hour fast instead of 16. This shorter fasting period may still offer health benefits while being less likely to disrupt hormonal balance [6].

Thirdly, it’s important to listen to the body’s signals. If IF results in mood swings, fatigue, missed periods, or changes in sleep patterns, it might be necessary to adjust the fasting protocol or discontinue it [6].

Lastly, seeking professional guidance is crucial. Women considering IF should consult with a healthcare provider to ensure the approach is safe and suitable for their individual circumstances [6].


Intermittent fasting can provide numerous health benefits, but for women in their childbearing years, it’s vital to approach it with an understanding of the potential impacts on hormonal health and fertility. By ensuring adequate nutrient intake, considering adjusted fasting periods, tuning into the body’s signals, and seeking

professional guidance, women can navigate intermittent fasting as a part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle.


  1. Patterson, R.E., & Sears, D.D. (2017). Metabolic Effects of Intermittent Fasting. Annual Review of Nutrition, 37, 371–393.
  2. Harris, L., Hamilton, S., Azevedo, L.B., et al. (2018). Intermittent fasting interventions for treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep, 16(2), 507-547.
  3. Klein, A.V., & Kiat, H. (2015). Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 28(6), 675-686.
  4. Tinsley, G.M., & La Bounty, P.M. (2015). Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans. Nutrition Reviews, 73(10), 661-674.
  5. Rothschild, J., Hoddy, K.K., Jambazian, P., & Varady, K.A. (2014). Time-restricted feeding and risk of metabolic disease: a review of human and animal studies. Nutrition Reviews, 72(5), 308-318.
  6. Heilbronn, L.K., & Ravussin, E. (2005). Calorie restriction and aging: review of the literature and implications for studies in humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 78(3), 361–369.