Women with gum disease take, on average, two months longer to get pregnant than women with good oral health, said reproductive medicine professor Roger Hart, of the University of Western Australia. Hart explained his research at an annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology this week. The study had previously been published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Hart and his colleagues looked at the pregnancy planning and outcome information for 3,416 women in Australia. They found that women who had gum disease took a little bit more than seven months to get pregnant, while women without gum disease took only five months to conceive, on average.
And 13.9 percent of non-Caucasian women with gum disease took more than a year to get pregnant, compared with 6.2 percent of non-Caucasian women without gum disease, the study said.
"Our data suggest that the presence of periodontal disease is a modifiable risk factor, which can increase a woman's time to conception, particularly for non-Caucasians," Hart said in a statement. "It exerts a negative influence on fertility that is of the same order of magnitude as obesity."
Age, weight and smoking status also impacted the time it took for women in the study to conceive.
The reason for this effect could be because gum disease causes inflammation in the mouth, and some women might have a higher inflammatory response to gum disease than other women that could then affect the rest of the body, researchers said.