Infertility affects both men and women. Infertility means not being able to become pregnant after having carefully timed, unprotected sex for a year.
Infertility is fairly common. According to the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction (ISAR), infertility affects about 10 to 14 per cent of the Indian population, with one out of six couples being impacted in the metropolitan cities.
In men, infertility results from factors such as problems with getting an erection, ejection of sperms, abnormal levels or abnormal motility of the sperm cells. Whereas, in females, it can result from any abnormalities of the female reproductive organs such as the ovaries, uterus (womb) or fallopian tubes.
There are multiple environmental, genetic, and acquired factors that lead to declining fertility in the present reproductive age groups that are between 25 to 34 years.
Here let’s understand them in detail.
Factors Leading To Infertility In Men And Women
1) A sedentary lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle has obvious health risks such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart diseases.
Studies suggest that physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle in men and women are the leading cause of infertility.
Maintaining an active lifestyle can benefit you in many ways. It helps keep you fit and improves your overall health. Try to do at least 30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise every day.
2) Stress and anxiety. Several recent studies have found links between the day-to-day stress levels in women and lowered chances of pregnancy.
The release of stress hormones such as cortisol can lead to physiological changes that can affect the reproductive health of both men and women.
Therefore, it is important that you find ways to manage stress. Opting for methods such as meditation and yoga can be beneficial.
3) Long work hours. The heat generated by sitting for long hours at work affects the quality of sperm in men. Occupational heat exposure is another significant risk factor for male infertility.
Make sure that you take frequent breaks between your work hours and always try to maintain a work-life balance.
Also, take necessary precautions to avoid any workplace health hazards, such as exposure to heat or chemicals.
4) Poor dietary choices. Increased consumption of frozen, instant, and packaged food items have been associated with declining fertility rates in men and women.
Lack of probiotics in packaged and preserved food alters the balance of the vaginal bacterial flora, which is very essential in preventing vaginal, cervical, and uterine infections. Sometimes, vaginal infections may result in infertility in women.
Additionally, ovulation dysfunction and delayed periods can be the after-effects of poor diet in many women. In men, the quality of sperm is directly influenced by dietary habits.
Try to include more unsaturated fats, fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet.
5) Lack of knowledge. Inadequate knowledge on sexual and reproductive health during adolescence (13 to 19 years of age), can lead to sexually transmitted diseases that can lead to infertility.
Proper knowledge of safe sex practices plays an important role in your sexual and reproductive health.
6) Not being aware of the fertile window. A fertile window is when the ovary releases an egg and it is when a female has a high likelihood of getting pregnant. It depends upon the length of your menstrual cycle and it varies from person to person.
When couples are not aware of their fertile window or if they miss having sexual intercourse during this period, it can affect the chances of pregnancy.
7) Early menarche. Studies have shown that having menstruation at an early age (before the age of 12) can have an impact on your fertility.
In case of early or late menarche, it is important that you consult your gynaecologist to understand the associated risks and adopt the necessary precautions to avoid any complications.
8) Environmental pollution. Increased exposure to environmental pollutants has been linked to reduced quantity and quality of sperms in men.
9) Smoking and consumption of alcohol. Chronic smoking and consumption of alcohol can cause variations in the levels of testosterone causing infertility in males.
It can lead to reduced libido (sex drive) and affect your sperm quality.
Women smokers experience a faster decline in their ovarian reserve (the capacity of the ovary to provide egg cells that are capable of fertilization).
In conclusion, all of the above factors are modifiable. Choosing to live a healthy, active, and stress-free life can restore fertility in many couples.
Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.