Infertility indicates the inability to conceive even after trying for more than a year without contraception. Infertility also refers to the inability of an individual to contribute to conception, or to a female who cannot carry a pregnancy. Most of the married women are unable to get pregnant even after one year of unprotected sex. Nearly 12% of women who are 21 to 44 years of age are facing difficulty in getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy.
Is it just a women’s problem?
No! Infertility is not a woman’s problem alone. Both men and women suffer from infertility. There are various risk factors for male and female infertility. Some of them can be modified by making simple lifestyle changes while others require intensive treatment.
Male and female share few risk factors of infertility in common. They include:
As you become old, you will be at risk of developing various health conditions including infertility. A women’s fertility declines during her mid-30s. This is mainly due to the hormonal changes that imbalances the number and quality of eggs, that in turn, affects the fertility. That is the reason why most of the doctors recommend pursuing a fertility evaluation if you are over 35 years and trying to conceive for six months. However, men’s fertility gets affected after the age of 40.
Heavy alcohol use
If you are planning for a baby, stop drinking alcohol as soon as possible as it increases the risk of infertility and birth defects. Most women may not realize that they are pregnant for the first few weeks and neglect their health by taking alcohol and smoking and end up with miscarriage. In men, heavy alcohol use decreases sperm count and motility.
Most of us may be aware of the fact that tobacco causes cancer. Not only that, but tobacco also affects fertility. A couple’s chance of achieving a pregnancy decreases even if one partner is habituated to smoking. Women who smoke often suffer from miscarriage. In men, smoking increases the risk of erectile dysfunction and lowers sperm count which ultimately results in infertility.
Decreased physical activity
Lack of physical activity in daily life increases the risk of infertility as it contributes to obesity and other health issues. Decreased physical activity can lower the sperm count among men leading to infertility.
Overweight and Underweight
Weight plays a major role in determining a person’s health. An inactive lifestyle increases the risk of infertility and miscarriage. It affects the sperm count and testosterone levels in men and affects the ovulation and fertility in women. Some women are at risk of fertility problems due to underweight as they have eating disorders, low calorie or restrictive diet. Therefore it is very important to avoid extremes in diet and exercise to maintain healthy body weight and a body mass index (BMI) between 20 and 25 to improve fertility and live a healthy lifestyle.
Sexually transmitted diseases
Multiple sex partners and unprotected sex increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS and gonorrhea that can damage the reproductive system and increases the risk of infertility in men and women.
What increases a man’s risk of infertility?
Overexposure to certain chemical and toxins such as pesticides, radiation, and frequent exposure to heat such as hot tubs elevates the testicular temperature, impairing sperm production.
Certain genetic defects and health problems including diabetes, mumps trauma may cause abnormal sperm production and function which leads to infertility. Some people may also suffer from premature ejaculation during which the semen enters the bladder instead of emerging through the penis.
Certain conditions like cancer and its treatment involving radiation and chemotherapy may impair sperm production resulting in infertility. In some cases of cancer, testicles may be removed which affects male fertility.
What increases a women’s risk of infertility?
Abnormalities in the uterus
Any abnormalities in the uterus contribute to infertility in women.
Stress and fatigue
Women get stressed out so easily than men. These emotional factors have a direct effect on the hormones that regulate reproduction ovulation. Therefore, you should consult your doctor if you are suffering from mental ailments.
Just like men, women may also suffer from certain health conditions which may directly affect fertility. This includes thyroid gland disorders, delayed puberty, the absence of menstruation, kidney disease or diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOD). Genetic abnormalities mainly affect the uterus due to which they may not be able to carry the pregnancy.
Change your lifestyle and eat healthy foods to avoid the risk of infertility. Do not worry if you are facing the problem of infertility as there are many treatment options available to treat the condition.