By: Dr. Rajalaxmi Walavalkar
Senior Gynaecologist and IVF Specialist at Cocoon Fertility
The contentment of becoming parents effortlessly happens for some couples whereas for some it is a difficult joy to achieve. Recent research says, one in six couples will have issues with getting pregnant. If you are actively trying to conceive or are not even thinking about babies yet, the small things you are doing now can actually have a serious influence on your current and future reproductive health. Everything right from lifestyle and diet to niggling little health problems could be causing the delay.
1. Too Much Sleep
According to a study in the medical journal Fertility Sterility, it’s noted that men who sleep for more than 9 hours a day have lower fertility as compared to the ones who sleep between 7 to 8 hrs per day. Even that extra hour in bed can cause the possible harm.
2. Having A Diet Rich In Processed Meats
A Harvard study suggests that heavy and daily eaters of processed meat e.g. bacon, hotdogs, salami etc. have lower sperm counts and higher risk of abnormal shaped sperm as compared to those who consume less amount of processed meats. The possible cause could be lowered testosterone levels in these men. Fish eaters on the other hand tend to perform much better as the omega-3 fatty acids in fish are beneficial for healthy sperm production.
3. Addicted To Aeriated Drinks
Excess intake of aeriated drinks results in poorer sperm motility in men, as compared to those who stay away from them. This is due to the high sugar content, feeding into obesity, that leads to hormonal imbalance thus affecting the sperm. Also, excess fat tissue in the groin keeps the area warmer and this excess heat affects the sperm quantity and quality.
4. Cell Phone In Pockets
Cell phones emit radiation and heat; this can not only affect the count and motility but also result in DNA damage of the sperm. It will be worthwhile to make the use of headsets or keep your phones in the bag or on the desk instead.
5. Being A Vegan On Soy
If you are a vegan and on a Soya bean rich diet, you will have poorer total sperm count as compared to those who don’t have soy at all. Soy is a rich source of phytoestrogens i.e. plant derived oestrogen, which is a female hormone. Higher oestrogen levels can hamper sperm production.
According to a research, infertility is two times more common in both male and female smokers as compared to non-smokers. In women the transfer of eggs and sperm through the fallopian tube is affected as well as the transport of the fertilized egg back to the womb. Also, smoking reduces the blood flow to the womb affecting the implantation and subsequent growth of an embryo thus causing miscarriage. In men, the DNA of the sperm is affected resulting in infertility issues. The risk exists in passive smokers too.
7. Coffee And Tea
Caffeine and tannin are associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. Excessive intake of coffee by a would be mother can have adverse effects on the infant’s growth resulting in early miscarriages. This effect is dose-related and heavy tea/coffee intake is therefore unadvisable. Two shots of espresso a day can reduce a man’s fertility and increase DNA fragmentation of the sperm.
8. Gyms, Spas And Bike Rides
It is all to do with the temperature of the testicles and sperms. In warmer climes, the scrotal temperature rises, the biochemistry of the sperm is harmed and the quantity, swimming capacity and DNA integrity of the sperm is affected. When planning for a family, it is best to avoid hot baths, saunas or steam baths. Also, one should avoid keeping laptops on lap whilst working. All these things will lead to increasing problems in conceiving. Negative effects on sperm are also markedly seen in men who spend much of their day in a sedentary position in a warm environment. It is also advised that men should wear loose undergarments.
9. Excess Dieting
Being too thin affects fertility. The hormone Leptin controls hunger and feeling of satiety. Women with low levels of leptin have less body fat. Hormones that control fertility are metabolised in the fat tissue. Hence, thin women suffer from menstrual irregularities and irregular ovulation causing problems in conceiving. It is recommended that women should maintain a balanced diet which is vital for conceiving. Extreme dieting also causes nutrient deficiencies and this further creates a non-conducive environment for conception.
Heavy drinkers are more likely at a risk and might require fertility treatments. In men, alcohol affects the quality of sperm and also increases the risk of DNA fragmentation of the sperm. Continuous consumption of alcohol can increase the risk of miscarriage which leads to foetal alcohol syndrome and develop abnormalities in the baby.