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Fertility tips: Preventive measures for men and women to avoid infertility

ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi
Jul 21, 2022 12:56 PM IST

While some causes of infertility are out of our control, there are many lifestyle choices that can impact our fertility. Here are some preventive tips by doctors for men and women to avoid infertility

Infertility can be caused in males or females by a variety of circumstances but it typically shows up as a decline in egg reserves in women and a decline in sperm count in men. There are many things that people can do to prevent infertility but while some causes of infertility are out of our control, there are many lifestyle choices that can impact our fertility.

Fertility tips: Preventive measures for men and women to avoid infertility (Nadezhda Moryak)
Fertility tips: Preventive measures for men and women to avoid infertility (Nadezhda Moryak)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Garima Sawhney, Gynaecologist and Co-Founder of Pristyn Care revealed, “According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), India's total fertility rate (TFR) has declined from 2.2 in 2015-16 to 2.0 in 2019-21. We have also witnessed an increase in the infertility rate among younger couples in metros. This may be due to lifestyle or late marriages. As we tried to deep dive into the reasons, lifestyle-related infertility, and long working hours are recognizable correlates of infertility. Common reproductive issues affect women's fertility, including endometriosis (pelvic inflammatory disease), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or irregular ovulation cycles.”

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She added, “Male partners suffer from low sperm count due to stress levels due to long working hours, geographical and climatic conditions, and bad lifestyle choices. There are many things that people can adapt to prevent infertility, such as - eating a healthy diet, controlling weight as per BMI, avoiding smoking and alcohol among others. Exercising regularly and getting enough sleep for at least 7-8 hours daily will also help prevent infertility. Couples who are trying to conceive should consult with a fertility specialist to ensure that they are doing everything possible to optimize their fertility. However, depending on a person's individual circumstances, age, and medical history, they may or may not be able to overcome their infertility.”

According to Dr Richa Jagtap, Co-Medical Director, ART Fertility Clinic India- Consultant, Reproductive Medicine, MS (O&G), DGO, Fellowship Reproductive Medicine (Singapore), “Infertility is often not considered to be a disease but rather an unfortunate consequence of a lifestyle or aging. In most cases, it can be managed through timely detection, investigation, and treatment but the important fact to be aware of is that by appropriate lifestyle measures and timely decisions, it can also be prevented.”

She advised, “Lifestyle modifications can have a positive and beneficial effect not only on physical health but on reproductive health too. For a start, a healthy weight is critical. Watch your weight and seek medical advice if required. Do not fall for fad diets that promise quick weight reduction. It is equally important to cut down on stress. A timely visit to a qualified reproductive health specialist can help couples be fertility aware, plan better and become parents sooner.”

Adding to the list of important preventive measures for avoiding infertility, Dr Kshitiz Murdia, CEO and Co-Founder of Indira IVF, suggested:

1. Keeping diseases at bay and controlling existing diseases - The human body and processes work in an intricate manner, each being interlinked to the other in some form. As such, diseases of one organ or organ system, if not controlled, can affect other parts of the body as well. Keeping hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases at bay can help prevent infertility. It is advisable to control these conditions with medicines and regular upkeep.

2. Checking lifestyle choices and leading a healthy life - Harmful lifestyle choices have been found to have a lasting impact on one’s health and a contributing factor to a number of diseases. Creating a healthy routine is imperative. As such, incorporating regular physical activity, having a balanced diet as well as spending time on one’s hobbies to de-stress are recommended. On the flipside however, one must get rid of harmful practices such as smoking, consumption of alcohol and drugs, eating junk food, and leading a sedentary life.

3. Safe sex practices - STIs such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis can lead to infertility in both the sexes. Such infections can spread through one’s reproductive system, causing damage, scarring and inflammation in reproductive organs. Sexually active individuals must use protection such as condoms and dental dams. One must keep a check on the number of sexual partners and perform STI panel tests between partners.

4. Fertility preservation procedures - Fertility preservation procedures include egg and sperm freezing. This is done as – social freezing or to store gametes at an early age to be used when the individual is ready to have a child later in life, in patients with abdominal and pelvic region cancers, as well as during an IVF cycle. These procedures can increase the success rate of people opting for pregnancy with assisted reproductive technology.

5. Regular doctor visits - Visiting one’s doctor on a regular basis can help track one’s health, and flag any diseases well in advance. This subsequently leads to timely treatment and keeping the disease in control.

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