The Lifestyle Lookbook: Factors That Cause Infertility

May 2, 2024
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If you're a serial smoker, a gyrating gym junkie or an authority on all things alcohol; or if you're older than 35, there's a good chance that your fertility metre has started beating to a different rhythm. And not necessarily a nice one at that. Fertility is as much governed by lifestyle as it is by genes, and there are several essential ingredients that go into making a baby; some, that you may have completely overlooked.

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If you're thinking of starting a family, here's a round-up of factors you should assess to make sure you're on the right path.

  • Age

Today, many millennial couples choose to start families in their 30s and sometimes even their forties, when declining fertility is imminent. A woman's ovarian reserves typically start dwindling at the age of 35, with remaining eggs usually exhibiting inferior attributes. Of course, while male fertility is also known to be inversely proportional to age, men produce sperm on an ongoing basis, whereas women's egg reserves are built-in at birth.

  • Smoking

Smoking can be a tantalising trap for your fertility. The habit has been found to affect both male and female factor infertility, increasing the odds of low birth weight, miscarriage and preterm delivery. Women who smoke also typically harbour lower egg reserves than those who don't, while male smokers are impacted in the sperm motility, sperm morphology and sperm count departments. Studies have shown that smokers' chances of conception through assisted reproduction techniques are halved when compared to those of non-smokers. That means as a smoker, you'll likely have to go through double the cycles as you would if you didn't smoke. If you're planning on starting a family via assisted reproduction, make sure you kick the butt at least three months before your first cycle.

  • Alcohol

Like the occasional evening livener? Unless you're extremely selective with your alcohol schedule, it's probably wise to plug your wine bottle right back and say No way, José Rosé. Alcohol consumption is tightly tethered to infertility and miscarriage, with studies confirming that fertile women looking to conceive drop their chances of conception by as much as 30%, with just 1 to 5 drinks per week. Assisted reproductive techniques point to lowered egg reserves and compromised pregnancy rates in women who drink alcohol up to the month before their first cycle. Alcohol can play just as much of a role in male infertility, with considerable consumption affecting sperm count and motility. Like with women, men who consume alcohol upto the month before their first in vitro fertilisation (IVF) cycle display inferior pregnancy rates.

  • Body Weight

Fertility is closely dictated by body weight, and being underweight or overweight can affect your ability to get pregnant. Featuring on the higher end of the weighing scale can indicate ovulation dysfunction or polycystic ovaries, and often, even a little weight loss can restore ovulation. Being underweight can entail its own set of fertility problems, often manifested by irregular or absent periods and sporadic ovulation.

  • Diet

As processed products and foods with preservatives and additives become increasingly present in our kitchens, it's important to acknowledge the effects that they have. Unless you buy organic produce, it's likely that your veggies and fruits come with a generous smattering of pesticides and fertilisers. Junk food can also wreak havoc with your hormonal equilibrium. The lesson here? Pick as much organic produce as you can and restrict your processed food intake. Include healthy fats, low carbs, milk and iron in your meals. Meet a nutritionist to seek out a healthy meal plan that works for you. It's amazing to think how close a relationship your hormonal reserves have to the food on your plate.

Lifestyle and fertility are two sides of the same coin, and you'll start noticing tangible differences if you work on augmenting your routine and your health. Sometimes, infertility is a product of uncontrollable biological factors, and if you suspect a problem, consider meeting a fertility specialist to know the best way forward.

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Must read- What Are The Symptoms Of Infertility In Men?