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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Toronto- A lifestyle intervention targeting women with obesity and infertility is more effective in increasing the pregnancy rate compared with fertility treatments, a new study suggests.
The study, presented virtually at ENDO 2021, showed that the lifestyle intervention, called the Fit-For-Fertility (FFF) programme, is a cost-effective alternative to the usual standard of care for women with obesity seeking fertility treatments.
"Our study shows that the FFF programme can significantly improve the pregnancy rate, especially the spontaneous pregnancy rate when no fertility treatments are required, as well as the live-birth rate," said lead researcher Matea Belan from the University of Sherbrooke in Canada.
Lifestyle changes and a moderate weight loss of 5 per cent to 10 per cent of a woman's initial weight have been shown to improve the odds of a pregnancy in women with obesity and infertility, the researcher said.
For the study, the researchers recruited 130 women receiving treatment at a fertility clinic, and randomly divided them into two groups.
The first group had access to the Fit-For-Fertility programme alone for the first six months of their participation, and in combination with fertility treatments if no pregnancy occurred after six months.
The programme included individual sessions with a nutritionist and a kinesiologist every six weeks. Women in the FFF group were also asked to follow at least once each one of the 12 group sessions, which included a 45-minute workshop on topics regarding nutrition, lifestyle changes and lifestyle habits, followed by a 45-minute session of initiation to different types of physical activity, including walking, circuit training, step workout and others.
In the second group, the control group, women had access to the fertility treatments from the outset but did not take part in the FFF programme.
Of the 108 women who completed at least six months of the study, or became pregnant during the first six months, the FFF programme generated a difference of 14.2 per cent points in the live-birth rate (51 per cent for the FFF group and 36.8 per cent for the control group).
The spontaneous pregnancy rate (pregnancy without any fertility treatments) was 33.3 per cent in the treatment group, compared with 12.3 per cent in the control group. (IANS)
Are you dealing with the stressful symptoms of PCOS? Be it missed periods, excessive hair growth on the face or body, weight gain, acne, and fertility issues. The pandemic made it all the more difficult to consult our doctor face-to-face to deal with these problems, but digital healthcare platforms have made it easier for women dealing with such queries to consult the right doctor.
The Covid-19 pandemic may have accelerated the shift towards digital healthcare practices in India, but its adoption among women in 2020- especially in non-metro cities- has been significant. Registering an overall growth of more than 212 per cent from the previous year, online consultations emerged as one of the preferred modes of consulting doctors by women in India, according to data from Practo.
According to Practo, more women in non-metro cities opted for online consultations in 2020- growing at an average rate of 550 per cent, compared with 400 per cent recorded among women in metro cities. This means that even as the majority (65 per cent) of the total number of online consultations done by women in 2020 were from metro cities, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of women from non-metro cities adopting telemedicine. In fact, this trend has been developing over the past three years.
PCOS, skin allergy, weight loss, thyroid, depression, hair fall, and UTI were some of the most discussed queries by women from non-metro cities last year, says the health platform.
Women with PCOS have numerous cysts in their ovaries, caused by an overproduction of hormones called androgens. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that prevents the ovaries from functioning properly. PCOS is also a red flag for the inception of type 2 diabetes, explains Prabha Acharya, Homeopath, who also consults on Practo.
For few women, gaining weight can influence their hormones. If you're obese or overweight, this might help get your hormones back to normal. Losing 10 per cent of your body weight may help your menstrual cycle become more predictable. This should help you get pregnant.
Therefore, weight loss prior to conception helps improve the live birth rate in obese women with or without PCOS. In simple words, living a healthy lifestyle and following the diet, with regular exercise, no smoking, less stress, and control of diabetes and other medical conditions prescribed by your doctor should improve your fertility odds. To lose weight on a PCOS diet, re-frame your thinking to eating to live, not living to eat.
Quick tips from the doctor:
1. Drink a lot of water and keep yourself well hydrated.
2. Eat foods low on the glycemic index. Low glycemic index foods are carbohydrates that break down slowly in the body, not causing a dramatic spike and then drop in insulin levels. Eat oats, brans, whole grains, broccoli, apples, etc. Avoid foods that are sugary and starchy such as syrups, sugar, jams, scones, white bread products, etc.
3. Eat more fruits and vegetables for good fiber intake. Fiber helps promote healthy estrogen metabolism which aids in the reduction of elevated levels of androgens. E.g. whole grains, apples (with skin), green leafy vegetables, etc.
4. Eat small frequent meals in a day and avoid skipping any meal and especially the first meal of the day i.e. breakfast.
5. Include lean protein in your diet. E.g. lean chicken, fish, egg, nuts, legumes, pulses, low-fat dairy products, skimmed milk, etc.
6. Eat healthy Omega-3 fats in your diet. Sources: fatty fish, olive oil, walnuts, flax seeds, etc. And avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, such as meats, cheeses, and fried foods.
7. Get some sun rays for 10-15 mins for your Vitamin D requirement. Great food sources of vitamin D are cod liver oil, eggs, salmon, etc.
8. Exercise daily. Exercise plays a huge role by keeping weight in check, this helps regulate the hormones and increases chances of ovulation.
9. Distress yourself. Try yoga.
10. Avoid drinking aerated drinks. Avoid processed, junk food. Quit smoking and alcohol. A regular visit to the doctor for follow-up.
Follow your plan and most importantly believe in yourself, because only you have the potential to change your circumstances! (Siddhi Jain)
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New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday said that the fertility rate of Indians may decline to 1.73 from the current 2.37 by the year 2035. "Population projection for India and States 2011-2036, released in July 2020, indicates that the Total Fertility Rate is expected to decline from 2.37 during 2011-2015 to 1.73 during 2031-35," he said.Vardhan said that India is now in a phase of demographic transition with a substantial percentage of youth population. "The youth population in the age group of 15-24 years is projected to decline from 233 million in 2011 to 227 million in 2036. However, the proportion of the working age population is expected to increase from 61% in 2011 to 65% in 2036. India is adding 12 million people to the working age population each year," he presumedThe minister, who was speaking in an event, also noted that the population boom has been affecting the planet and the human race in many adverse ways. "More people require more resources, and as the population increases, the earth's resources deplete. People in developing countries like India, feel the impact of environmental problems more acutely," he stated.Vardhan spoke about exhaustive efforts the country undertook to encourage the adoption of family planning: "India was one of the first countries in the world to formulate a National Family Planning Program way back in 1952 which was later expanded to cover maternal and child health as well as adolescent health and nutrition and has taken giant strides in spreading awareness & enhancing adoption of family planning techniques while also ensuring healthier lives for its citizens," he said."Even though India's population has increased from 36 crore in 1951 to 121.02 crore in 2011, the country has witnessed significant decline in both fertility and mortality. The crude birth rate which was recorded at 40.8 per 1000 in 1951, has declined to 20.0 in 2018 and the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has declined from 6.0 in 1951 to 2.2 in 2015-16. Meanwhile, the death rate in India has declined from 7 in 2012 to 6.2 in 2018," the minister added.Vardhan also shared insights from the recent National Family Health Survey 5 suggesting significant increase in family planning strategies. "20 out of 22 States surveyed so far have shown an increase in modern contraceptive use and 21 showing a decline in unmet needs for contraception while 19 of them have shown a decline in fertility," he shared.--IANSasr/ash