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Preventive Healthcare

Prevention of Infertility: A Basic Guide to Better Sexual Health

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People are increasingly concerned with the Prevention of infertility in males and females, especially with the declining fertility rate of Indians. Infertility affects at least 15% of couples worldwide, and in India, the rate of primary infertility can range anywhere between 3.9% to 16.8%.

From lifestyle choices to age and genetics, several factors can be responsible for infertility in males and females. However, knowing the risk factors and proactively addressing them can go a long way in the prevention of infertility

Risk Factors for Infertility in Women

From irregular-shaped uterus to hormonal imbalances, there may be multiple reasons why you are not getting pregnant. Common causes of female infertility include, but are not limited to:

  1. Age- The quantity and quality of your eggs will decline as you age. 
  2. Blocked fallopian tubes
  3. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  4. Uterine disorders such as uterine polyps (growth) and fibroids (non-cancerous tumours)
  5. Kidney disease
  6. Celiac disease (digestive and autoimmune disorder)
  7. Abnormal menstrual cycle (heavy flow, longer periods, extreme cramps with pain and nausea, etc.)
  8. Being over- or under-weight
  9. Smoking or drug abuse

Want to get yourself tested for fertility? Book an exclusive women’s health package here.

Risk Factors for Infertility in Men

While some factors (age, smoking, drug abuse, obesity, etc.) are common culprits in male and female infertility, others are more specifically responsible for male infertility.

These include:

  1. Trauma to the testes
  2. Varicocele- a condition with enlarged veins in a man's testicles 
  3. Poor functioning of the hypothalamus or pituitary glands (responsible for maintaining testicular function)
  4. Tumours in the pituitary gland
  5. Genetic disorders such as Klinefelter’s syndrome (smaller than normal testicles) or Y-chromosome microdeletion (missing genes in the Y-chromosome) 

How to Prevent Infertility in Males and Females

  1. Quit Smoking

While easier said than done, quitting smoking is one of the best ways to boost fertility. If you are wondering, "how does smoking affect fertility," here are some eye-opening facts about how smoking affects reproductive health.

  • Smoking can adversely affect hormone production, making it difficult for you to conceive.
  • Women who quit smoking are twice more likely to get pregnant each month.
  • Smoking can damage the DNA in the sperm.
  • Smoking is also likely to cause erectile dysfunction (difficulty getting and keeping an erection)

So, how to quit smoking and help ensure the prevention of infertility?

  • Find a program with the help of your doctor that can help you quit smoking. Your doctor may even prescribe medicines or nicotine replacements to ease the process.
  • Get rid of ashtrays, lighters, cigarettes, or any other thing that triggers your urge to smoke.
  • Keep yourself busy, especially around the times when you usually reach out for a cigarette. Go for a walk or listen to audiobooks, or do anything that will engage your thoughts and keep them from drifting off to cigarette smoke.
  • Join a support group where you can be accountable to others, who will also keep checking on you to prevent a relapse.
  • Take it easy- one cigarette at a time. Don't regard yourself as a failure if you can stop smoking immediately. Instead, congratulate yourself every time you don't cave into the desire to smoke!
  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or underweight can significantly affect your ability to conceive. The ideal weight for conception will depend on your body mass index (BMI) (the ratio of your height to your weight). 

For adults, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy, between 25 and 29 is indicative of being overweight, and above 30 shows obesity.

In women, being overweight can result in hormonal imbalances and menstrual disorders.

In men, a BMI above 25 can affect their ability to hold an erection, resulting in impotence.

Therefore, if you are planning to get pregnant, maintaining a healthy weight can aid the prevention of infertility in males and females. The following are a few ways in which you can maintain a healthy weight:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet with all the required nutrients
  • Limit intake of sugar and alcohol
  • Move around as often as you can- do not sit for long hours
  • Eat on smaller plates to limit your portion sizes
  • Set a realistic weight goal; know that you can't lose it all in a day
  • Exercise regularly 
  1. Control Your Stress

Women with higher levels of stress are relatively less fertile than their relaxed counterparts. The reason is simple- stress triggers a vicious circle of unhealthy behaviours which make conception difficult. For instance, individuals who are stressed are more likely to sleep less, indulge in substance abuse, skip regular meals or exercise and even lose interest in having sex!

Proactively handling stress can be effective in the prevention of infertility. Here are some pro tips to help you reduce stress while trying to conceive-

  • Identify and Alleviate Factors Causing Stress

From a poor work-life balance to financial troubles, there can be multiple factors triggering your stress. Thankfully, better planning and support from friends and family can greatly help alleviate stress. If you are struggling with past failures to conceive, this could be an ideal time to reach out and confide in loved ones or even seek professional help. 

  • Choose Your Response

At times, stress factors may be beyond your control- say, a hectic workplace or grief over the loss of loved ones. In such instances, even while you can't remove the stress source, you can work on your responses toward it. Practising yoga and meditation and other mindfulness techniques can help you gain better control over stress. 

  • Seek Support for Yourself and Your Partner

Remember, you are not alone in your fight with infertility. Your partner may be equally affected by the stress and anxiety that follows failed conception. Talking it out and getting help can ease many of your cumulative worries. What's more, psychological care for couples undergoing infertility treatments is known to improve pregnancy outcomes.Having trouble getting pregnant? Book a test to learn about your reproductive health, or contact us to talk to our representatives.

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