Risk Factors for Infertility in Men & Women

Infertility affects men as well as women. When not able to conceive, it adds to mental stress and marital issues. Depression, anxiety, and lack of communication between couple damage self and the relationship.

However, timely and right diagnosis along with appropriate treatment increases the chance for a couple to get pregnant. There are many risk factors of infertility in men and women, which call for making lifestyle changes and seeking doctor’s help.

Risk Factors for Infertility in Men & Women

Top 5 risk factors of infertility in men

Quality of sperm

There are three factors that determine the quality of the sperm. First, is the number of sperm.  If the sperm count is less, the chances of fertilization with the egg decreases. Next factor is the movement of the sperm (motility). The sperm should wriggle and swim through a female’s cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg. Finally, the shape and structure of sperm (oval head and long tail) also matters as they work together to move them. If the sperm is not healthy, conceiving becomes difficult.

Abnormal semen

Semen consists of the sperm and fluid. During ejaculation, semen is released and the sperm moves towards the egg for fertilization to happen. However, if a man suffers from hormonal imbalance, ejaculation disorders, medical condition like testicular infection or has overheated testicles, semen will be abnormal, thereby affecting the motility of sperm and hence conception.

Certain medications

Certain medicines affect the quality of sperm and getting pregnant becomes difficult. For instance, to treat Crohn’s disease or Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory drug called Sulfasalazine lowers a man’s sperm count. Athletes and bodybuilders take anabolic steroids, which also impacts sperm count and mobility. It is better to speak to your doctor about the medicines being taken presently and check whether it inhibits fertility.

Obesity, smoking and alcohol

Obesity reduces the chances of conception. It affects testosterone production, sperm quality, sleep and sexual behaviour. Making matters worse, is consumption of alcohol and continuing smoking. These habits increase the risk of infertility.

Age and stress

The decline in male fertility starts around 40-45 years. The sperm quality starts to fall. Besides age, stress hinders fertility. The long working hours and hectic schedule and lack of quality time with spouse, causes stress, which affects the sperm and semen quality.

Top 5 risk factors of infertility in women

Medical conditions

The most common cause of infertility in women is ovulation disorders. When ovulation does not happen at all or occurs only in few cycles, conception chances are very less. It can be due to:

-Polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS) – Ovaries don’t function properly affecting ovulation

-Hyperprolactinemia- High levels of prolactin disrupts ovulation and fertility.

-Poor egg quality-If the eggs produced is genetically abnormal or is damaged, sustaining pregnancy is a challenge.

-Thyroid imbalance- Both overactive and underactive thyroid gland affects hormonal levels. This imbalance disrupts menstrual cycle and hence conception.

Age and stress

In women, fertility begins to drop after 30 years. Conception becomes difficult. Besides age, mental stress leads to reduced sexual activity.

Overweight, smoking and alcohol

When overweight, leptin hormone, which is produced in fatty tissue, hampers the hormonal balance and causes infertility. High cholesterol levels, smoking and alcohol adds to infertility woes. Passive smoking is also harmful.

Lack of nutrients in diet and exercise

Foods that are rich in folic acid, zinc, iron and vitamin B 12 when not a part of one's daily diet, can affect nutrition and fertility. Also, less or strenuous exercise, impacts fertility.

Certain medications

When non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDS) like asprin, ibuprofen are taken for a long time, conceiving becomes difficult. Chemotherapy drugs can damage ovaries causing infertility. Drugs like marijuana and cocaine also increases the risk of infertility.

With growing awareness on the risk factors which can cause infertility in men and women, a couple can help themselves take corrective measures at the right time by consulting a doctor, treating the disorder and making essential lifestyle changes.

Disclaimer : Content presented here is for information purposes only, please consult with your doctor for any health queries

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