Lifestyle causes that affect fertility in men and women
Infertility is a condition wherein a seemingly healthy couple is unable to conceive a child despite repeated efforts. Time is of the essence here, which means that a couple may be considered infertile if they have not been able to achieve pregnancy in 12 months.
At Gaudium IVF Centre, patients often ask us if anything they did contributed to their infertility. Unfortunately, many misconceptions exist in our society due to which women are held responsible for their infertility, even when the underlying cause is completely beyond their control. For instance, biological factors such as fibroids or ovarian cysts can make pregnancy difficult but these are health conditions that can affect anyone!
Similarly, a man who was born with a physical obstruction in the reproductive tract leading to azoospermia (nil sperm) cannot be blamed for being infertile.
On the other hand, can an individual really cause his/her infertility?
To an extent, yes!
Infertility can be caused due to internal or external factors. There is now ample scientific evidence which shows how modern-day lifestyle and habits are contributing to the rising infertility in young couples. While most internal or biological factors can be treated by your fertility expert, it is the lifestyle factors that need to be proactively managed if you are having difficulty getting pregnant.
Lifestyle causes that could be causing your infertility
Every generation finds it harder to cope with mounting societal pressures of its time. Today’s generation seems to be struggling with all kinds of societal, financial and environmental strains that are making a simple and healthy life almost unattainable. However, where there is a will there is always a way and it is never too late to change one’s ways.
The first crucial step is to analyze your lifestyle to determine which of your lifestyle choices or habits may be reducing your fertility. It is best to do this in consultation with a fertility expert who is trained to guide you properly. There are different causes for male and female infertility, but all in all following are the most common factors that affect reproductive health in both men and women:
After the mid-thirties, fertility in both men and women begins to decline.
Every woman is born with a limited number of eggs. After puberty, she loses about a thousand eggs each month and as the number of eggs dwindles, the likelihood of getting pregnant also decreases. Aging men begin to have problems with sperm volume and quality.
However, advances in assisted reproductive technology (ART), and the options of egg freezing and embryo freezing have made it possible for women to get pregnant later in life.
Even so, keeping a healthy lifestyle is necessary, as years of abusing your body with unhealthy habits would impact even the best of fertility treatment.
Smoking has been linked to both male and female infertility, as well as a higher risk for miscarriage, low birth weight, and premature delivery. Whether you are a passive smoker or an active smoker, the risk remains the same. According to some studies smokers must often find it twice as hard to get pregnant than a nonsmoker.
Smoking is known to affect ovulation in women and sperm production and sperm quality in men. For couples dealing with infertility, quitting smoking is non-negotiable condition.
Alcohol and other addictions
Any thing you ingest stays in your body for sometime and has some long term or short term effects. PCOD and diabetes have been linked to consumption of alcohol, caffeine and other addictive substances. Alcohol and drug abuse are associated with severe birth defects, mental retardation, stillbirth, preterm delivery, low birth weight, and newborn addiction to the substance at delivery.
It is always good to maintain a healthy body mass index. Being over or underweight can affect fertility adversely. Ovulation problems and PCOD are more common among heavier women. Even a slight reduction in body weight can have a significant impact on your ability to conceive. Underweight women can have fertility problems as well. To be healthy, eat healthy and stay fit and do regular physical activity.
[Read more on how excess weight affects your ability to conceive.]
Most of our patients are completely unaware of the effects of stress on the ability to conceive. Scientific research has shown that stress releases hormones that affect ovulation and the fertilization of eggs in women. In men, stress is known to affect sperm production and sexual performance.
Chronic stress is also linked with a higher risk of IVF failure.
Sexually transmitted diseases
STDs such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea infections can cause severe damage to the fallopian tubes resulting in blockage and other complications. It is important to practice safe sexto be able to achieve pregnancy and carry it to full term.
Tips to alter your lifestyle and improve your fertility
Just as a plant needs a nurturing environment to thrive, your body too needs certain pre-conditions to perform and grow at its best. Making small yet meaningful changes in your daily life is
your contribution to your dream of becoming a parent.
- Exercise Regularly: Exercising is like a healing balm for your body, mind and soul. Physical activity releases hormones that increase your happiness and well-being. A happy body and mind is the best breeding ground for a new life.
- Eat Healthy: The ancient wisdom of eating healthy before and during a pregnancy is based on the premise that healthy eating – fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, unprocessed foods – removes toxins from the body and creates a favourable environment for a baby to grow.
- Quit Smoking: Cigarette smoke carries more than 400 harmful chemicals. To protect your reproductive system from hazardous chemicals, stop smoking and being around people who smoke. The same applies to alcohol and caffeine.
- Stay Stress-Free: Removing stress from your life is often easier said than done. However, we are hopeful that knowing how stress hinders reproduction will motivate you to adopt a more relaxed lifestyle.
Our counsellors have compiled 10 tips to help you cope with stress.
Need further advice on how to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy?
Our in-house Nutritionist and Fertility Counsellor would be happy to assist you.