Motherhood is one of the most blessed experiences in life. But not everyone gets to experience it. Stressful life, hectic working schedules, and bad eating habits have affected the health of many. As a result, many people are experiencing fertility issues.
According to research, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is very important if you're trying to conceive. Fitting into a healthy lifestyle is of vital importance since it helps restore stamina and boosts energy levels. In the process of trying to get pregnant, exercise can be helpful. When you're overweight, a sensible exercise program in combination with prescription diets can help you conceive. A yoga pose or asana prepares your body and mind for childbirth by developing a hospitable and calm body. The practice of yoga encourages positivity when you're dealing with infertility issues.
How Yoga Boosts Fertility?
There are several health benefits to yoga asanas. However, yoga can aid in issues relating to fertility in the following ways-
Yogic practices stimulate the uterus and the ovaries
Exercises the back muscles and strengthens them
It detoxifies the body by flushing out toxins
Provides flexibility to the groin and hips
Makes the neck muscles stronger and the spine more flexible
Reproductive organs are supplied with more blood
Improves mood and reduces depression, tension, and mood swings
Facilitates smooth delivery.
Try These Yoga Poses To Boost Fertility:
Yoga pose of seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana)- Contains stretches for the lower back, hips, and hamstrings. Enhances uterine and ovarian functions and relaxes the body.
"Viparita Karani" (legs up the wall)- Relieves backache and provides improved blood circulation in the pelvis. To do this pose, install support on the floor next to the wall. Place your left side along the wall. You should place the support under your hips and low back. Lean on your elbows and your shoulders. Your palms should face upwards as your arms are placed to the sides. Spend at least 5 minutes in this pose. Slowly exhale while you descend. Take a deep breath and relax in Shavasana.
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Fertility treatment is a stressful process for a couple. At times, it becomes so intense that either of the two partners starts to withdraw and isolate from family, friends, and community. This happens mostly with the females because the anxiety and anticipation tends to overwhelm her. This is exactly when she needs the support of her partner. It's essential that the male partner communicates so that he not only lets her know he is there for her, but also helps her express what she is going through.
A study of 525 infertile couples presented at the 57th annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, has clarified that women are more likely to feel depressed about the whole situation compared to their partners. Female depression is especially common in couples in which partners feel different levels of stress.
Here are some tried and tested tips to help men in the fertility journey to make the whole process less cumbersome and stressful for their partners:
Respect Her Feelings
If your partner doesn't want to go to a party or talk to somebody, instead of being indifferent to her, respect and support her decision. Try and understand what she's going through.
Don't Hide Your Own Feelings
Sometimes, in order to manage so many responsibilities, men tend to ignore their own feelings thinking it might aggravate the issue. While women are generally expressive about their feelings, men are exactly opposite of them. Sharing your own feelings also enable your partner also to open up. Bottling up your own feelings makes your partner more alienated and alone.
Share The Burden
After a diagnosis of infertility, there are many options that couples consider, including IUI treatments, and sometimes both husband and wife may have to go for treatments together. They involve a whole lot of paperwork, uncomfortable questions from doctors and invasive procedures for the man as well as the woman. In such a situation it is important to lean on each other, talk, and ease the process for each other.
Do Your Part Diligently
If your partner needs medical help, make sure to schedule an appointment with a doctor for you both. One should not forget the fact that men are also partly responsible for infertility in as much as 50 per cent of cases, where couples struggle to conceive. When you people are going through infertility issues, your doctor may recommend medical treatments or lifestyle changes to boost your chances for parenthood. Many causes of male infertility are treatable and curable.
Infertility treatment is not merely a procedure but also a life-altering journey for a couple. It demands a whole lot of patience, perseverance and understanding. Before you kick start the procedure, set goals about how much time and money the two of you would be willing to spend. Do your own research and speak to the doctor. With so much pressure from society and your own family members, infertility is often extremely hard to go through for a woman. If she doesn't get the support of her spouse at this crucial point of time, it often leads to feelings of hopelessness, or inadequacy.
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Over the last 3 to 4 decades, average sperm count in men as well as sperm quality, have declined alarmingly on a global scale. 1 out of 20 men, at present, are facing different fertility challenges. The growing numbers can be accredited to the exposure to environmental chemicals that disrupt ones endocrine balance.
Dr. Shweta Goswami, Associate Director- Fertility, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Noida says: "Ever-increasing cases of obesity and the trend of delaying parenthood, be it due to work or any other personal reason, have also been great contributing factors. It is pertinent to understand that the reasons behind male infertility can vary greatly, though these are usually linked to congenital, acquired and idiopathic factors that directly or indirectly affect the sperm."
What do the numbers say?
Dr Goswami tells: "One out of six couples who are trying to conceive are not able to achieve pregnancy naturally and are diagnosed with infertility. In fact, an article on Male Infertility, published in The Lancet on December 10, 2020, clearly suggests that 12 percent of couples globally, with a malefactor being a primary or contributing cause in approximately 50 percent of couples'."
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Impact of the current pandemic on male fertility
Ever since the first case of the pandemic was reported in 2019, experts all across the globe have been thriving seamlessly to explicate the unknowns of the deadly virus, Covid-19. While many new facts have come to light, studies are still going on to find out more about the virus and its side effects. Mounting evidence has pointed towards the negative impact of the virus on male infertility, she says.
"A study, COVID-19 and male reproductive function: a prospective, longitudinal cohort study', published in the journal Reproduction in January 2021, suggests that the human reproductive system may be potentially vulnerable to COVID-19 infection and the same can lead to significant impairments in semen volume, progressive motility, sperm morphology, sperm concentration and the number of spermatozoa.
"It is not uncommon for a virus to attack the male reproductive tract as previously documented evidence has shown that there are a variety of viruses that can severely impact male fertility. In light of the global decline in sperm quality, the virus has led to further concerns," says the expert.
The expert burst male infertility myths
If we are talking about male infertility how can we forget the myths that surround it? Here are a few myths and misconceptions related to male infertility that need to be busted:
Myth 1- Infertility is a female problem and males have nothing to do with it
This common myth prevailed in our society for a very long time. In fact, there are still people out there who believe that infertility is only related to females. It is important to understand that infertility is not a gender-specific problem and can affect both females as well as males. Male infertility predominantly depends upon the quality and quantity of the sperm. Studies suggest that two-thirds of the males with fertility issues have found to have low sperm count or impaired sperm quality. Rest can be contributed to problems in the male reproductive tract, genetic conditions, hormonal imbalance and other factors.
Myth 2- Only women need to take care of their health when it comes to planning for pregnancy.
This is completely false as the quality of the sperm is as important as the quality of the egg. There are various factors that can affect the quality of the sperm which include excessive smoking, drinking, substance abuse, exposure to harmful chemicals, wearing tight fitted underwear's and sexually transmitted diseases. As most of the problems concerning male infertility are related to sperm, it is extremely important to incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine.
Myth 3- Men can have children as long as they live
No doubt males do not have a fertility window like females but this does not mean that they can impregnate their partner anytime they want. Although it is possible for some males to have children in their 70s, the time taken for or achieving the pregnancy is considerably longer than males who are below 45 years of age. This happens because sperm quality is likely to decrease after a certain age. It is also important to note that the chances of miscarriage and premature birth are higher when the man is older. Not only this, if you are planning a pregnancy after crossing 70 years of age, the child is quite likely to have genetic, chromosomal and developmental defects.
Read More► How age affects a women's fertility as compared to men?
Mostly, women are aware of reproductive facts and something called a biological clock ticking away. This comes into prominence especially when couples plan their pregnancy. One should keep in mind that fertility is age-related for both men and women and this understanding is pivotal because it helps in conceiving, the baby's health depends on it and one can make informed choices during pregnancy.
How age affects a women's fertility as compared to men?
Fertility with age has a different effect on men and women. A woman is born with certain number of eggs that only get depleted over a period of time, and after some time she can't produce any more eggs. But in the case of a man, he can produce sperms his entire life. Therefore, it signifies the women's pregnancy health window is short as compared to a man's, who can even father a child in their 60s and 70s. So, let's have a look at the fertility across different age groups:
Fertility in their 20s:
According to the experts, this is the perfect age group for a woman to have a healthy pregnancy. This is the age when women are most fertile. The difference in fertility in their early 20s and late 20s is almost negligible.
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Some of the great advantages of pregnancy during this age group are:
* As your eggs have lesser odds of carrying genetic abnormalities, the chances of your child having any genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome, Thalassemia, etc. is minimal.
* The risk of miscarriage lays only 10 per cent.
* Less likely that you will have premature baby or baby with low birth weight.
* Even the mother has lower risk of any health complications like gestational diabetes or hypertension.
The disadvantages of this phase are:
* In first pregnancy, the risk of pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication, becomes higher
* If you have PCOD or uterine fibroids or any underlying medical condition, achieving a pregnancy is complicated.
* When it comes to male fertility, they don't have to worry at all. If at all infertility has been diagnosed in a man, then it's all because of his lifestyle choices that lead to obesity, hypertension, contraction of any sexually transmitted infection and diabetes. This can be reversed in the case of men by altering lifestyle choices. Sexually Transmitted Infections in men affect the motility and concentration of sperms.
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Fertility in their 30s:
If a woman wants to conceive in this phase of her life, then the chances of expecting are between 15 and 20 per cent each month provided they don't have any underlying health conditions. A study has confirmed that women in 30s have 30 per cent chances of conceiving in their first try. But, fertility tends to decline when a woman reaches 35 because of the decreased quality and quantity of the eggs. Even the chances of conceiving naturally after 35 are also minimal. The increased level of the follicle-stimulating hormone in a female body makes her more prone to having twins or triplets.
The risks of conceiving in 30s are:
* Higher C-section rates
* Higher chances of genetic issues in the newborn
* Increased rates of miscarriages and stillbirths
* Elevated risks of ectopic pregnancy
Fertility in your 40s and beyond:
In case of a woman, it's not impossible to conceive in this age but one should take notice of the fact that during each ovulatory cycle, pregnancy rate dips to 5 per cent between 40 and 44, whereas beyond 45 it gets reduced to 1 per cent. According to Center for Disease Control, half of women across the globe undergo fertility issues in 40s.
The risk factors of conceiving remains the same as it is in their 30s. Since there are risk factors involved, there is no guarantee that a female can conceive for sure. Even a man's fertility also declines in this age group as the sperm count and semen volume also decreases. But, one should not give up hope and consult a fertility expert at the right time.
Ultimately, the perfect time to get pregnant is when you feel it's the right time for you. It's completely fine if want to feel more confident in your career and finances to start building your family. If you do choose to wait, do consult with your doctor or a fertility specialist to make sure no health issues will come as surprise once you're ready. The fertility expert will not only help you know your ovarian reserve but can also suggest ways and means to preserve your fertility till you are ready to become a mother.
Read More► Diet Drinks, Soda Might Be Harming Your Fertility
Are you fond of fizzy drinks or diet cola breaks? Do you prefer sugar in your brew for a sweetener? If so, your 'diet' beverage could be messing with your pregnancy plans.
Did you know, artificial sweeteners are chemical-based and all the soda's and sugary drinks are made of artificial sweeteners? There are so many things to think about when you're trying to increase your chances of conceiving. But did you know or ever think that maybe your daily intake of soft drinks can affect your chances of having a baby?
Couples planning a pregnancy should consider limiting their consumption of these beverages, especially because they are related to other adverse health effects. Research has shown women undergoing fertility treatments found that frequent consumption of the artificial sweeteners commonly found in these beverages significantly decreased their chances of conceiving a child.
To conceive, 'consider cutting back on sodas'
Sugared sodas, and diet sodas are among the most popular beverages consumed by reproductive aged men and women. Research has shown that drinking one soda per day is linked with a 20-25 per cent reduction in the average monthly probability of conception for both men and women. These adverse effects are not only limited to natural conception but may also have implications if you are pursuing fertility treatments like IUI & IVF.
Soda and Infertility
Studies have found that excessive consumption of soda is strongly linked to infertility in both men and women. Men who consume soda regularly are at four time's the risk of lowering the sperm count, motility, and other parameters that affect fertility. Moreover, soda being an acidic beverage alters the pH of the body which further affects fertility. Aspartame is an artificial softener used in most soft drinks which can alter the functioning of the endocrine glands and lead to hormonal imbalances. Excess soda consumption can also lead to the generation of free radicals which can result in the death of many sperm and ovum. Besides, most soft drinks are rich in caffeine which reduces menstrual bleeding as it is a vasoconstrictor. Hence, it is clear that excessive consumption of soda can lead to infertility in both men as well as women.
Other Harmful Effects
Besides the above-mentioned direct effects of soda consumption on fertility, there are various other ways in which the consumption of soda affects fertility like:
* Soda is extremely high in sugar content which leads to excessive weight gain, obesity, poor digestion, etc. which is extremely bad for fertility.
* Soda intake could cause subfertility through increased risk of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, weight gain, impaired fasting glucose which can affect ovulation and risk of polycystic ovarian syndrome.
* Sodas and soft drinks are also rich in chemicals like additives, preservatives, colourants, etc. which are also bad for fertility.
* Soda intake leads to ovulatory infertility among females and lower sperm concentration and total sperm count among males.
* Excessive soda consumption increases blood sugar levels and can lead to type-2 diabetes which is not only bad for fertility but can also result in complications during pregnancy.
* Soda consumption disrupts the hormonal levels in the body, including estrogen, which can also contribute to infertility.
* Besides, soda is highly addictive and has other negative health effects on gut health, bone strength, and various organs of the body. All these factors combined do affect fertility in a very negative way.
The takeaway, ditch the diet drinks. In order to boost your baby-making chances include more eggs, green leafy vegetables, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, stop smoking, decreasing alcohol intake and most importantly the soda intake.
(Anju Yadav is a Senior Consultant- Fertility, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Gurgaon)
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