04 May EVERYDAY FACTORS THAT AFFECT YOUR FERTILITY POTENTIAL
The ability to procreate is a basic human right and desire. However, around 10-15% of the population face difficulties in the process of child bearing. In the modern era where both the partners have career goals child bearing is deliberately delayed. In such scenario, here is a list of the common day to day factors that affect fertility and which may help couples to stay prepared for parenthood:
1. Weight, exercise and nutrition—the woman’s weight is an important factor in fertility potential. Body mass index (BMI) is commonly used for its measurement. Normal acceptable BMI is 18.5- 30 kg/m 2 . Both being overweight and underweight can affect normal ovulation, affect the response to fertility medications, reduce the chance of conceiving, increase miscarriage rate, increase pregnancy complications and have impact on newborn’s outcome.
Being overweight has an effect on fertility of male partner also.
2. Smoking—various studies show the harmful effects of smoking on male and female fertility. Sperm studies show increased oxidative stress, lower sperm count, abnormal fertilization capacity and reduced chances of pregnancy in female partner. Smoking in females also increases the complications during pregnancy.
3. Dietary factors—
- Folic acid- periconceptional intake of folic acid reduces the chances of congenital anomalies and should regularly be taken by all women looking for pregnancy.
- Vitamin D- it is known to have role in reproductive functions at more than one stage. So vitamin D deficiency should be corrected before conception.
- Iodine- infertile women in iodine deficient areas should receive iodine supplements. Iodine is often also added to prenatal vitamins.
- Caffeine- it is commonly found in drinks and foods across all cultures. High consumption of caffeine may be associated with impaired fertility, so it’s better to keep the intake to less than 2 cups of coffee per day.
- Alcohol- studies relate high alcohol use (≥ 8 drinks/week) to reduced fertility. Moreover, alcohol consumption during pregnancy may be associated with fetal alcohol syndrome (congenital anomalies).
- Antioxidants- though several commercial preparations are available, increasing fruit and vegetables in the diet and avoidance of adverse lifestyle factors including chemical exposure may help in reducing oxidative stress in the infertile males.
4. Occupational hazards—any potential exposure to occupational hazards e.g. lead paints, pesticides can also affect fertility potential of the couple.
5. Stress—there is growing evidence that stress is associated with negative reproductive outcomes. Appropriate expert counseling and lifestyle adjustments may ameliorate these effects.
6. Sexually transmitted diseases—various immune and inflammatory responses to genital infections reduce fertility. Many infections may not necessarily result in signs or symptoms. So it is recommended that couples should seek advice regarding detection and treatment of any infection of reproductive tract.
7. Vaccinations—certain vaccinations should be completed before pregnancy e.g. rubella, influenza, varicella-zoster as there are dangerous consequences if patient gets infected during pregnancy.
Hence, preconception care is more than just improving fertility- it is also about optimal outcomes for the children born as a result of both natural conception and after infertility treatment. The reproductive health of a woman and her partner is the single greatest determinant of the health and well- being of their children.