Motherhood is the greatest boon in any woman’s life. While the modern lifestyle has simplified many complex activities, it complicated the most basic need of any individual, that is to beget a child. There are number of factors that lead to decreased fertility like late marriages, stress and pollution causing hormonal imbalances. Let us understand various changes in the lifestyle that can improve your fertility and maximize your chances of achieving pregnancy, and when to seek professional help.
Fertility and Aging:
Fertility is defined as the capacity to produce a child. Approximately 80% of couples will conceive in the first 6 months of attempting pregnancy. Fertility varies among populations and declines with age in both men and women, but the effects of age are much more pronounced in women. For women, the chance of conception decreases significantly after age 35.
“Fertile Window” – Period of maximum fertility:
The ‘‘fertile window’’ is the 6-day interval ending on the day of ovulation. Intercourse is most likely to result in pregnancy when it occurs during the fertile window. Fertile window can be identified by analysis of inter-menstrual intervals, ovulation predictor kits, or cervical mucus. For example, if a lady has 28-day cycle, ovulation is expected on 14th day. So the fertile window is from day 9 to day 14 of the cycle. The length of the fertile window may vary among women, altering the likelihood of success. As a result, regular intercourse is recommended between day8 to day 19 of the menstrual cycle.
Intercourse – When and How? :
A widely held misperception is that frequent ejaculations decrease male fertility. In fact, abstinence intervals greater than 5 days may adversely affect sperm counts. Couples should be informed that reproductive efficiency increases with the frequency of intercourse and is highest when intercourse occurs every 1 to 2 days, but be advised that the optimal frequency of intercourse is best defined by their own preference within that context.
Many women think that lying on their back for an interval after intercourse facilitates sperm transport and prevents leakage of semen from the vagina, the belief has no scientific foundation.
Most commercially available vaginal lubricants decrease fertility by decreasing sperm motility and survival. It is advisable to refrain or use medically approved lubricants while trying to conceive.
Diet and Lifestyle:
Fertility rates are decreased in women who are either very thin or obese. A healthy lifestyle may help to improve fertility for women with irregular menses. Elevated blood mercury levels from heavy seafood consumption have been associated with infertility. Women attempting to conceive should be advised to take a folic acid supplements to reduce the risk for neural tube defects in the baby. The thyroid abnormalities are very common these days. Women planning for pregnancy should check their thyroid status and blood sugars and take treatment if needed. Body weight plans a key role in conception. Too thin or too heavy women face difficulty in attaining pregnancy. Therefore women should eat healthy food, do regular exercise.
Smoking has substantial adverse effects on fertility. Even passive smoking has adverse effects on fertility. It increases miscarriage rate even in naturally conceived pregnancy. Decrease in semen quality have been observed in men who smoke.
Higher levels of alcohol consumption (>2 drinks/day, with 1 drink >10 g of ethanol) probably are best avoided when attempting pregnancy. Alcohol consumption should stop altogether during pregnancy because alcohol has detrimental effects on baby development.
High levels of caffeine consumption (500 mg; >5 cups of coffee/day or its equivalent) have been associated with decreased fertility. During pregnancy, caffeine consumption over 200 to 300 mg/day (2–3 cups/day) may increase risk for miscarriage.
Exposure to environmental pollutants and toxicants is being recognized as a potential cause of reduced fertility. Women exposed to certain toxins and solvents such as those used in the dry cleaning and printing industries have reduced fertility, and men exposed to heavy metals may be more likely to have abnormal semen parameters. Pesticide exposure may be a concern for agricultural workers.
What is infertility and when to seek medical help?
Infertility is defined as the failure to achieve a successful pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected intercourse. Medical help is advised even before 12 months when the woman is more than 35 years old or has any medical history or physical conditions like irregular menses, obesity, etc.
Healthy and stress free life-style with regular intercourse is the simplest way to conceive. Seek medical help when required. Have a good life!
Dr. Sumina Reddy M.
Consultant Gynaecologist, Infertility Specialist & Laparoscopic Surgeon
She can be reached at [email protected] | +91- 910091 7152