High cholesterol is bad for more than just your arteries. A study released this week found that high cholesterol may make it tougher for couples to get pregnant, the Washington Post reports. Researchers came to their conclusion after following 501 couples who were trying to conceive (and controlling for other potential infertility contributors, like body mass index). Their finding held true when either both partners or just the woman had high cholesterol; no significant effect was seen if only the man had the condition. The effect was the most pronounced when both would-be parents had high levels, per a statement released by the National Institutes of Health.
As study leader Enrique Schisterman explains, cholesterol plays a key role in the production of hormones like estrogen and testosterone. "An excess sometimes creates an imbalance of too much hormones, or too little hormones. You have to have a sweet spot." Schisterman cautions that the finding doesn't mean couples should rush to take cholesterol-lowering drugs, but he does encourage couples looking to become parents to lead a healthy lifestyle. (Click to read about another breakthrough in the study of fertility involving a protein called Juno.)