India is powered by its massive youth population who hold the potential of driving the country’s progress. However, ironically, in order to cope up with this fast paced world, today’s youth are knowingly or unknowingly caged in an unhealthy lifestyle which has not only taken a toll on their health but is also silently making them a victim of experiencing lifelong repentance.
Ever-changing environments and a fast-paced lifestyle brings up a plethora of issues that include stress, fatigue, burnout, breakdown, as well as anxiety. For managing work, ambitions, family, and personal life; skipping exercises, turning to fast foods, late marriage, alcohol consumption, poor sleep, and long working hours have now become a way of life. All these have severe impact on overall health which also includes one’s reproductive health.
One’s reproductive health is immensely dependent on the varied facts of their general well-being. For instance, certain lifestyle conditions such as diabetes is a leading cause of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women and low testosterone in men; this impacts their reproductive health and can lead to infertility. Therefore, the correlation between lifestyle and reproductive health/ fertility must be carefully examined.
Impact of obesity on fertility
The most common result of unhealthy eating habit is obesity which has long been recognised to have detrimental reproductive consequences. “Menstrual disorders and anovulation (when an egg doesn’t release from your ovary during your menstrual cycle) are more common in overweight women. Women who are obese are at a higher risk of having a miscarriage. These women have a higher risk of infertility, as well as higher risks of conception, and pregnancy problems,” says Dr Kshitiz Murdia, CEO & co-founder, Indira IVF. Obesity causes infertility in a variety of ways in women, including poor ovarian follicular growth, oocyte development, fertilisation, embryo development, and implantation. Fertility in obese males may be compromised by sexual dysfunction, endocrinopathy (disease of the endocrine gland), and other factors, in addition to poor semen count, and its quality.
Impact of smoking, tobacco & alcohol consumption:
Smoking is one of the primary reasons that causes erectile dysfunction in men and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol has been found to affect one’s fertility too. “In females, it has been found that smoking tobacco disrupts normal ovarian function and reduces the concentration of key female hormones. The toxic elements that tobacco introduces to the body has ability to damage eggs and also decrease their number. Moreover, it interrupts the menstrual cycle by leading to irregular menses and can also result in an early menopause,” adds Dr Murdia. Tobacco intake does not only impair the reproductive system but can also complicate pregnancy, harm the health of the child conceived, and born. Babies may be born too small despite a full-term birth, risk of birth defects increase as damages in brain and lungs, as well as increase chances of the child being born with cleft lip and cleft palate.
Impact of age on fertility
Women are born with limited egg reserve in their ovaries which dwindle down with age. Over one million immature eggs decrease to only about 300,000 eggs by puberty which drops further with every ovulation of the menstrual cycle; some even get destroyed. “Post mid-thirties, the quantity and quality of eggs worsen with about 50% of the egg pool becoming genetically abnormal once women are 40 years old. Eventually, menopause marks the end of puberty and the availability of viable eggs,” explains Dr Murdia. A depleted pool of viable eggs is a tell-tale sign of decreasing fertility potential. Menopause induces a host of associated changes in the body, including the ability to conceive naturally.
Impact of Stress on infertility
Stress in general causes anxiety, depression, and general irritability. Although, these factors do not directly cause infertility but irrevocably can cause trouble in conceiving or seeing the pregnancy to full-term. Chronic stress can impact the normal ovulation process. Past research has proven that women with a history of depression and melancholy are twice as likely to experience infertility. These psychological issues have also resulted in miscarriages, pre- mature delivery, and in the birth of an unhealthy baby.
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Have a balanced schedule
Persons between ages 15-29 are typically occupied with studies and/or work. Given the stress they are under, it can be very easy for them to get carried away with unhealthy habits. They are normally unable to maintenance a proper nutritional diet and right physical activity that ensures that the reproductive system is at good health. Being physically active on a regular basis by running, walking, exercising or yoga has a number of benefits. By reducing levels of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, it can help elevate mood as well as stimulates the production of endorphins; this finally decreases stress.
What we consume has a direct co-relation with how our body functions. The environment we live in can expose us to hazardous substances. “Such exposures over a long duration of time can affect the reproductive system in both men and women, subsequently also altering the shape and size of ova and sperms. Regular checks and follow-ups with doctors for different health conditions is extremely necessary. This is because certain health complications can later manifest themselves as infertility such as diabetes, thyroid disease (hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism), and high blood pressure,” opines Dr Murdia.
It is known that in humans, the reproductive window becomes smaller with one’s age however, in conjunction with one’s age, this window can close much earlier. With the help of scientific advancements and technology in assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilisation and intracytoplasmic sperm injection among others, the age of conceiving can be extended. As such it is imperative that people consciously work to better their health in their youthful years so to enjoy various facets of life throughout their lifetime.
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