There are many reasons for infertility- many of which are beyond our control, but there are some things you can do to improve your chances of becoming pregnant. Here are some tips.
Though infertility affects thousands, most people are not completely infertile. Instead, external factors play a role in why someone cannot get pregnant. Physicians speak of “subfertility,” or reduced fertility, which can be caused by lifestyle factors. These include physical and psychological aspects that can stand in the way of pregnancy.
Lifestyle and infertility
A balanced diet and sufficient exercise are very important to stay physically and mentally fit. Lack of exercise, malnutrition or overeating don’t just lead to various diseases, but can also have a negative impact on fertility and the probability of pregnancy.
A healthy diet with unprocessed food, lots of fresh vegetables and good fats, as well as participating in sports several times a week, will help your body to stay healthy. Healthy choices will also reduce stress in your life, since your body will be feeling better.
Too little physical activity can make pregnancy more difficult, but competitive sports or heavy physical work can also cause a fertility disorder and prevent pregnancy. You want to avoid overexerting your muscles if possible, but a healthy dose of exercise can improve fertility, so don’t stop working out altogether.
The weight of infertility
The chances of getting pregnant decrease if you are underweight or overweight. If you are underweight (with a body mass index below 18), your menstrual cycle may be irregular and in some months, you may not ovulate at all – thus causing infertility.
Obesity can also have a negative effect on fertility. Obese women (a BMI of 30 or more) are more susceptible to hormonal imbalances, which makes pregnancy less likely. The fatty tissue is an active tissue and able to produce hormones that can make pregnancy more difficult. If you are planning a pregnancy, you should try to have a normal body weight.
Stress and infertility
As in many other areas of life, stress can be our greatest enemy. Emotional and psychological pressures, whether they’re from too many deadlines or a fight with a friend, can serve to prevent pregnancy in several ways.
First and foremost, stress affects our physical bodies. Courtney Denning-Johnson Lynch of Ohio State University in Columbus and her research team found that an elevated level of the stress marker alpha-amylase in saliva reduces the chance of conception by almost 30 percent.
Secondly, stress impacts our mind and thoughts. If you’re stressed from difficult situations at work, are you really going to be in the mood for love? If you’re not feeling clear-headed and relaxed, anxiety can really put a damper on your libido.
Couples who have been trying in vain to conceive a child might want to consider some into changes to their way of life. Just adopting a healthier lifestyle might be a good start.
Smoking, alcohol or drugs shown to decrease fertility
Smoking, alcohol, and drug consumption are not only unhealthy for your own body, but also hamper the possibility of getting pregnant. Studies show that smokers wait longer to get pregnant and are more infertile than non-smokers. The toxic substances from tobacco smoke also damage the eggs and sperm.
Heavy alcohol or drug consumption can also be a reason for reduced fertility. It can take your body longer to recover from the alcoholic cocktails and become ready for pregnancy. Regularly increased alcohol consumption in the year before a desired pregnancy reduces the number of eggs obtained through artificial insemination, according to the trade journal “Fertility Sterility.” Men with increased alcohol consumption have higher levels of estrogen, reduced sperm quality, and an increased proportion of malformed sperm. Moral of the Story: Avoid binge drinking and too much alcohol if you’re trying to conceive.
Medicines can have an effect on infertility
It is not only the contraceptive pill that prevents pregnancy, but also medications that are not associated with contraception. If you want to have children, you should make a list of your medications and clarify whether they can have the side effect of negatively affecting fertility. Talk to your doctor if you wish to have a child but need to take regular medications. You might even have to stop taking some medications during pregnancy and while breastfeeding in order not to harm your child.
Gynecological and hormonal causes of infertility
Various gynecological maladies such as cysts, obstruction of the fallopian tubes, adhesions, endometriosis (occurrence of tissue similar to the uterine lining outside the uterine cavity) or PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome- a metabolic disorder characterized by ovarian cysts, cycle disorders and/or hyperandrogenemia) can be the cause of a woman not becoming pregnant. Due to these disorders, the uterus and ovaries do not offer the prerequisites for pregnancy. Even if you have these symptoms, pregnancy is still possible with suitable therapy, so ask your doctor about possible treatments.
Hormonal disorders in the female body can also affect fertility. A blood analysis by a gynecologist can discover whether the hormones are in equilibrium and suitable for enabling pregnancy. Hormonal disorders can be influenced by an appropriate lifestyle or medication, so you can increase your pregnancy chances.
Congenital deformations of the reproductive organs, such as the fallopian tubes, can be the cause of infertility but are uncommon. Very rarely, women develop immunological defense reactions against the partner’s sperm or against their own eggs, so that fertilization cannot take place.
Sex and fertility- timing is everything
A woman can only conceive on certain days of her cycle: shortly before, during and after ovulation. So, you need to be sure you’re timing efforts to conceive effectively. There are various methods to determine fertile days, like charting your monthly cycle, or even wearing an ovulation monitoring device, so you can have sex on these days. When in doubt, regular sex increases the chance of getting pregnant. During fertile days, sex is recommended at least every two days.
Women have a much smaller time window to conceive a child than men, and the biological clock ticks louder and louder as they get older. Therefore, if possible, it’s better not to wait too long to try to conceive. The British Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has found that the ideal time to get pregnant is between the ages of 20 and 35. With every passing year, the chances of becoming pregnant naturally decrease. In addition, the danger of high-risk pregnancies increases from 35 years of age.
Even if you fall into the “advanced maternal age” category, adopting healthy habits will increase your chance to conceive, and help keep your baby healthy and safe during pregnancy.
Environmental pollutants and toxins reduce fertility
Environmental pollutants and toxins are ubiquitous- we can’t avoid them. But cadmium and lead can especially interfere with bodily functions when we’re trying to conceive.
Studies have shown that they can reduce fertility, with lead affecting men in particular. Certain foods, such as tuna, contain high levels of lead and can have negative effects on our health when consumed in large quantities. Cadmium can affect the fertility of men and women equally. Environmental toxins such as pesticides or radioactive radiation are also suspected of negatively affecting the fertility of men and women.
Possible causes of infertility in men
It’s not just women who can struggle with infertility; men play an equal role in the process. Old age, hormonal disorders or inadequate sperm quality can be reasons for reduced fertility. Other causes can be damage or infections of the testicular tissue and the spermatic ducts.
Diseases such as diabetes mellitus, psychosomatic disorders like stress, negatively affect fertility. The consumption of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs can also lead to a lack of sperm quality and fertility in men.
Dealing with infertility
There are many possible causes that stand in the way of pregnancy. Other times, there really isn’t a clear, scientific reason we can’t conceive. You may want to talk with family on a secure network like FamilyApp about some struggles you have since there could be a genetic component to infertility that has affected many members of your family.
Each person is different, so not all possible reasons can be given in an article. If you have a desire to have a child:
- See a doctor you can trust and let him or her examine you for possible causes.
- Talk openly and honestly about your feelings with your partner.
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself not to burden your partnership.
- Look into adoption if you are not able to have your own children.
- Find a support group. You’re not alone in your struggle or desire to have children.
Remember- even without children it is possible to have a happy and fulfilling partnership.