Most common infertility risk factors you should be aware of

Infertility is one of the most common reproductive problems faced by both men and women across the world. It is the inability to conceive a child after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse. Infertility may occur as a result of an issue either in you or your partner of or even a combination of factors in both. According to the WHO, around 11.8% of Indian women in the reproductive age are infertile. There are many causes of infertility but it’s the infertility risk factors we need to consider proactively to prevent infertility or take necessary steps at the right time.

 

 

Here are some infertility risk factors common to both men and women:

 

1. Age

A woman’s ability to conceive reduces as she grows older. Most women have trouble conceiving above the age of 35. The number and quality of eggs produced deteriorates over time. Therefore if you plan to have a child beyond 35, there is a much higher probability of infertility. For men, the age bar is slightly higher at 40 years. Sperm count and virility
decreases after 40.

 

2. Body weight

The risk of infertility is higher among people who lead an inactive lifestyle. Lack of exercise and unhealthy food habits affects sperm count and egg production. In very rare cases, over-exercising also impacts fertility, especially in women. Maintaining a healthy weight within a normal BMI is important to remain fertile.

 

3. Smoking and drinking

Men and women who smoke and drink regularly have a lesser chance of conceiving a child. Tobacco and alcohol affect sperm count especially in men. Women who smoke tend to have a higher number of miscarriages as compared to men. Occasional drinking is fine but habitual drinking has harmful effects on the body’s fertility.

 

4. Mental health problems

Depression, anxiety and high stress can lead to infertility. A partner who suffers from extreme depression may be unable to perform well and this in turn affects the fertility.

 

 

Infertility risk factors in women

There are some factors that are specific to women and should be paid close attention to.

 

1. Irregular periods

A common issue among many infertile women is irregular or abnormal menstruation. Having irregular periods indicates that you’re not ovulating properly. Ovulation is a stepping stone to fertility. There are several drugs which can treat this. However, please check for underlying conditions such as thyroid function which can affect ovulation.

 

2. Hormonal Imbalance

PCOS is a common condition affecting women of reproductive age. It often starts at a young age and should be treated immediately. PCOS causes short, longer or irregular periods. The hormonal changes associated with PCOS can cause infertility.

 

3. Endometriosis

This is a condition in which the uterine tissues grow outside the uterus. It is characterized by painful periods and painful intercourse. It is very much treatable but if left untreated, can lead to infertility.

 

4. Other ovulation disorders

There are several ovulation disorders which are leading causes of infertility in women. These include hypothalamic dysfunction, premature ovarian failure and overproduction of prolactin.
The latter causes the body to produce less estrogen which impacts fertility.

These are the most common infertility risk factors in women. There are other less common factors which your doctor can help diagnose and treat, depending upon your condition.

 

 

Infertility risk factors in men

It’s a common misconception that men suffer less from infertility than women do. There are millions of men around the world who are at high risk for infertility. Here are some of the common infertility risk factors in men:

 

1. Hernia repair

Hernia is a condition wherein fatty tissue pushes through a space between organs and causes pain. Hernias only get bigger with time and need to be surgically put back in place. Inguinal Hernia surgery can sometimes lead to infertility in men. The vas deferens, the tube which carries the sperm, can be damaged by hernia surgery. This affects the movement of sperm and therefore causes infertility.

 

2. Sperm disorders

Sperm may not grow fully, have improper shape, have trouble moving up the female reproductive system, may be underproduced or not be produced at all. Some men may be born with a blockage in their reproductive organs. Such blockages affect sperm movement.

 

3. Smoking and drinking

Smoking and drinking excessively disproportionately affect men as compared to women. Men who smoke have a lower sperm count than those who don’t. Drinking causes erectile dysfunction and lowers sperm production. With changing lifestyles, drinking and smoking are quickly becoming some of the most common infertility risk factors in men.

 

4. Undescended testicles:

This condition generally occurs during puberty. It’s important to see a doctor immediately and address the issue to ensure that it doesn’t cause severe complications later on.

 

5. Early or late puberty

The body starts producing several hormones during puberty.The early production of testosterone and other male hormones affects the body’s ability to produce sperm and regulate movement of sperm.

 

Infertility is a common and treatable condition. It is important to consult a doctor who understands your concerns and addresses them patiently. If you are dealing with infertility, it’s important to remember that It’s nothing to be ashamed of. With new medical procedures and drugs available in the market, most common infertility risk factors can be addressed and controlled.

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