With the Infertility Epidemic on a Rise – Are You at Risk?
When you and your partner decide to take the plunge and start a family the epidemic of infertility always comes to mind. And the usual thought that runs through your mind when conceiving becomes a challenge, is that the issue lies with you. But the truth is it takes two…
The Infertility Epidemic
Firstly, it’s important not to jump to conclusions about infertility. It takes two to start a family. Often, you need to have sex at least two to three times a week and in some cases there will be several, “take twos” before successfully conceiving. In saying this, research is currently showing that the fertility rates worldwide are falling dramatically, and half of all couples experience fertility issues at some point.
Studies are also proving that infertility almost equally affects both men and women. Overall, this condition can affect anyone, at almost any age after puberty.
What Increases Your Risk?
Today, many couples choose to have their children at a later stage. In fact, about 20% of women in the United States now have their first child after age 35. Unfortunately, as women age, their likelihood of fertility decreases significantly due to their ovaries becoming less able to release eggs; they have a smaller number of eggs left, and the eggs that are there, are not as healthy anymore.
2. Stress Levels
Believe it or not, your body is equipped to prevent conception from happening if you are very stressed. This is because the hormone that is released by our bodies during stressful times, adrenaline, sends a signal to the rest of your body saying that the conditions are not ideal for conception. One of the ways in which adrenaline does this, is by inhibiting the use progesterone, a sexually reproductive hormone, essential for fertility.
3. Body Weight
Being overweight can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones that influence ovulation and fertilisation. This is due to the fact that by producing extra fat cells, you increase your overall production of oestrogen, and essentially affect your body in the same way as a low-dose of the birth control pill would. In saying that, being underweight can also cause infertility. If you are malnourished, it is possible that your ovulation and menstrual cycle can be disrupted and decrease your likelihood of conception as well.
4. Health Concerns that Affect Your Reproductive Hormones
Ovulation problems are often caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is condition caused by a hormone imbalance and puts you at risk of irregular ovulation or lack there of altogether. It is the most common cause of female infertility to date, and whilst it there isn’t any known cure, it can often be controlled by maintaining a healthy diet and by exercising.
PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in the modern world and with 50% of women undiagnosed worldwide, it is of vital importance that women are aware of and understand the disorder.
“PCOS is a complex endocrine and metabolic disorder. In recent years it has also become an epidemic that affects one in 10 women – of childbearing age – globally,” explains Dr Sly Nedic, an aesthetic and anti-aging practitioner who specialises in genetic testing, hormones and personalised medicine treatments.
What is the criteria for PCOS?
According to the US National Institute of Health, the criteria for PCOS is as follows:
- Irregular/absent menstrual cycle.
- An excess of androgen production.
- A lack of evidence for other reasons for the above symptoms.
What are the other symptoms associated with PCOS?
- Infertility/recurrent miscarriage
- Excessive facial hair and body hair (hirsutism)
- Oily skin/acne
- Obesity/abdominal fat
- Insulin resistance
- Sleep apnea
50% of women with PCOS, if left untreated, can develop diabetes type 2 by the age of 40, cardio-metabolic syndrome as they age, and are at three times the risk of developing endometrial cancer.
Simply put, you have to take control of three things:
- Your stress.
- The amount of sugar you consume.
- Your exposure to environmental toxicity.
5. Unhealthy lifestyle habits
Leading an unhealthy lifestyle such as eating an unbalanced diet, drinking excessively and smoking; all contribute to your overall well being and fertility levels. Though these factors may not always be the direct cause for infertility. When combined with age, stress, body weight and health concerns that affect your reproductive hormones, your risk of infertility increases. Luckily, lifestyle habits are one of the few things we do have control over.
Keeping Fertile and Healthy
1. Healthy Eating and Exercise is Always Key
Staying well nourished boosts your odds of conceiving! If you eat well and get in a good amount of exercise every week, your overall health will improve, and this includes your sexual and reproductive health.
Women, especially, need to make sure to include enough protein, iron, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D in their diets. Studies have shown that a deficiency in these nutrients can be linked to lengthened menstrual cycles and less frequent ovulation.
2. Regular Sex is Essential
This applies to both parties equally. For women, certain research suggests that those who engage in regular intercourse are more likely to have predictable menstrual cycles and normal ovulation than women who have sporadic sex. Whilst if men don’t ejaculate often enough, it creates a buildup of dead sperm which then has to be released during sex and has no function. In order to keep your fertility levels healthy and provide the best chance of pregnancy, you should be having sex two to three times a week.
3. Go Organic
Many pesticides and herbicides have proved to decrease male fertility and affect female fertility by inhibiting ovarian function and disrupting the menstrual cycle. Going organic is a good idea for your overall health in any case. However, if you’re looking to get pregnant, it’s definitely a good idea to eat organic fruits and vegetables and avoid applying pesticides to your lawn or garden.
4. Moderate Your Alcohol Consumption
Though the occasional glass of red wine with dinner shouldn’t harm you, excessive alcohol consumption can greatly increase the likelihood of infertility in both men and women. Alcohol is know to both alter oestrogen levels and lower testosterone levels. It is likely to interfere with egg implantation in women, and lower sperm quality as well as libido in men.
5. Ditch the Cigarettes Quickly
It should come as no surprise that smoking is exceptionally bad for your overall health, let alone your fertility. Cigarette toxins are known to cause ovarian as well as sperm damage and therefore can interfere with the entire fertilisation process.
When is it Time to Test Yourself?
While everyone is different and the time it takes to fall pregnant varies from couple to couple. If after a year of unprotected regular sex you have not conceived, you should consider running some tests. However, educating yourself about infertility, and what the main causes for it are, is the best starting point.
Eat to Conceive
Essential fatty acids, found especially is sources like fish, are best known for promoting blood flow to the uterus and supporting the opening of the follicle to release the egg. So fueling up on leafy greens, whole grains, eggs, legumes, meat, fish and water is essential in order to boost your fertility and increase your likelihood of conception.
Try This Wild Caught Snapper with Wilted Greens For Better Health
Courtesy of The Healthy Chef (Serves 2)
- 2 x 200 g wild caught snapper fillets
- 10g butter
For the Teryaki Glaze…
- 60ml tamari soy sauce
- 60ml organic maple syrup
- 30ml mirin
- 50g red apple, grated (with skin)
- 1 golden shallot, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
For the Wilted Greens
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 100g kale, washed and shredded
- 120g baby spinach leaves
- a pinch of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Combine teriyaki glaze ingredients in a pot and simmer over a low heat for 3 – 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat a small pot over a medium heat with olive oil.
- Add the kale, spinach, pepper and lemon juice and cover with a lid.
- Reduce the heat to low and gently allow to steam for 1 – 2 minutes or until wilted.
- Set aside and keep warm until needed.
- Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a pan over a medium heat.
- Add snapper, skin-side down and cover with a lid.
- Reduce the heat to low, gently cover with a lid and allow the fish to cook all the way through without turning over.
- Remove the lid and add 40 ml teriyaki sauce.
- Add the butter and mont au beurre to create a lovely sauce.
- Serve immediately with wilted greens