Infertility affects both men and women equally. It is the inability to become pregnant after having tried for 1 year continuously without any contraception, during the ovulation period every month.
According to the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, infertility is affecting about 10 to 14 percent of the Indian population, with higher numbers in cities where one out of six couples is impacted. Nearly 27.5 million couples actively trying for pregnancy suffer from infertility in India.
The ability and the ease to get pregnant are not completely inherited. 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.
One in a hundred needs evaluation for some problems related to fertility. The Modifiable risk factors are:
1) A poor lifestyle like night duties, irregular sleeping time, disturbances in sleep patterns.
2) Stress and anxiety affect the rhythm of our biological clock.
3) A sedentary lifestyle and lack of regular exercise cause obesity, hormonal disorders, and irregular periods. Obesity damages sperms by causing female: male hormone imbalanced ratio.
4) The heat generated by sitting for long hours at work affects the sperms; wearing tight undergarments, jeans for long hours has a definite detrimental effect. Hot-working conditions also add on to this.
5) Poor Dietary choices like more frozen, instant, and packaged food items with preservatives, more refined sugar and carbohydrates. Less of fiber-rich diet, millets, fruits and veggies. High sugary foods and bakery products. Lack of probiotics in the packaged and preserved stuff alters the balance in the normal vaginal bacterial flora which is very essential in preventing vaginal, cervical, and uterine infections.
Sperm quality is directly influenced by dietary habits. Ovulation dysfunction and delayed periods can be the after-effects of poor diet in many women.
6) Lack of knowledge in sexual and reproductive health in adolescence, leading to sexually transmitted diseases causing irreversible infertility because of tubal problems.
7) Also, the lack of knowledge about the fertile window is very common. They don’t have sex when it is actually required due to their work shifts or because of living in different places related to their jobs. People travel often for business and official meetings; these are not without implications - The tendency to prioritize career, financial stability by postponing marriage, and childbirth.
Indian women are six years ahead in reproductive aging compared to European women. The average menopausal age of Indian women is 47 years but for European women, it is 51 years. So, the reproductive life is shorter and we see many women with low AMH (AntiMullerian Hormone) in our day to day practice. It’s time that women realize that they have to start their family at the right time.
8) Early menarche in girls has further aggravated the problem as their reproductive lives start early and end early. So the biological age (ovarian age) is different from our chronological age for many women. Awareness programs are definitely vital at this juncture.
9) Exposure to environmental pollution has caused polycystic ovary syndrome in many women and has also reduced the quantity and quality of sperms. Excess usage of plastics has caused damage to various parts of our body. Early menarche or precocious puberty before 10 years in girls is an after-effect of air pollution and food adulteration.
10) Smoking, consumption of alcohol, electromagnetic radiation from gadgets can reduce the sperm count drastically and damage the DNA of the sperm. Women smokers experience a faster decline in their ovarian reserve, that is in the number of follicles reduces, AMH levels fall and may land up in premature menopause.
The solutions for these reasons are self-explanatory.
Counseling before starting your sexual life, safe contraception counseling, seeking prenatal advice can go a long way in reducing these issues and restore fertility in many couples. The young generation should be aware of these factors which endanger their fertility and seek proper counseling while planning for pregnancy.