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Lifestyle And Age Factor - Impact On Fertility

Lifestyle And Age Factor - Impact On Fertility

Posted By Rupa Jaiswal Posted on Jan 18, 2022

It is well established that factors as diverse as Smoking or alcoholism to conditions like obesity or poor nutrition and even advancing age affect fertility. Lets analyse and see in details.

Lifestyle And Age Factor - Impact On Fertility

Tobacco consumption Reasons ranging wide from stress to peer pressure, smoking is a habit that once taken up, is hard to let go. Cigarette smoke contains many different components, the most significant of which is nicotine, which is converted into a substance in the body that affects the movement of sperms in men. Cigarette also contains heavy metals like cadmium and lead which affect sperm density. Cigarette smoke also damages the DNA of sperms, while chewing tobacco affects the structure of sperms. In women, smoking is associated with miscarriages, ectopic pregnancy by damaging fallopian tubes (damages its ability to move the fertilized egg towards the uterus) or by causing blockages in fallopian tubes, as a result of which the meeting of egg and sperm is prevented.

Obesity Obesity also impacts reproductive capacity in both males and females. Obesity has emotional and psychological effect on the persons suffering from it, affecting their chances of reproduction. Obesity also contributes to menstrual irregularities, affects ovulation and increases the chances of miscarriages. Obese women are also more likely to suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which also affects fertility. Obese males suffer from decreased testosterone levels and are at greater risk of impaired sperm production and reduced sperm quality.

Older age In addition to affecting their chances of conceiving, older women also are more likely to give birth to children who have genetic or other inborn effects. They also suffer from increased risk of miscarriages. 20s are the ideal age for women to reproduce. By the time a women reaches her mid 30s, the quality as well as the number of eggs in her begin to decline. In men, sperm quality decreases with age.

Alcohol consumption Studies have shown that drinking too much alcohol decreases the levels of steroid (which includes the sex hormones), also resulting in abnormal menstrual cycles in women. When alcohol is consumed, it is converted into substances that cause oxidative damage to DNA and proteins. Sperm production is also affected in men who are heavy drinkers, with the more alcohol that is consumed, the greater is the degradation of the quality of sperm. Heavy drinking during pregnancy also affects the well-being of the baby.

Hormonal imbalances due to stress, lack of sleep, etc Hormones are signalling molecules produced in our body that are sensitive to both external and internal stimulus. Their levels can fluctuate based on a wide variety of factors such as date of the menstrual cycle in women, stress, or even disorders like those of the thyroid. Estrogen and progesterone are essential sex hormones whose imbalances can impact ovulation and fertility in women. They modulate the ovulation cycle in women and hence hormonal imbalances can be a risk factor for infertility. In men, hormones like prolactin and estrogen influence the production of another hormone called testosterone, while also affecting sperm production by the testes.

The Brighter Side In addition to avoiding habits that harm reproductive health, it is essential to inculcate lifestyle practices that improve overall well-being. Good diet and exercise have a double benefit - in addition to directly benefiting reproductive health, these habits also help maintain healthy body weight. One thing that should be kept in mind, however, is that extreme exercising can have the opposite effects. If exercises are carried out to exhaustion, that is, if one exercises to the point where they suffer from severe pain, and if exercises get in the way of getting sufficient sleep or cause injuries, fertility may be negatively affected. A good diet can further prevent the development of diseases like blood sugar , one of the many complications of which is reproductive problems. Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants, while consuming caffeine only in moderation, are also beneficial to reproductive health. Recent studies have also implicated air pollution to produce poor quality of egg or sperms and increased miscarriage rates. It is therefore important to increase exposure to greener and cleaner environment, making sure to avoid exposure to toxins that may be present in the surroundings as these may also contribute negatively on Infertility. Avoiding multiple sexual partners will help reduce the chances of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease. These diseases may impair the reproductive capacity if they're left untreated for long.

One rarely lends a thought to the more permanent effect of their habits on their health. Even when such things are considered, people examine other aspects of their health, taking their reproductive health for granted. It is high time that this behaviour is changed.

Children are the light of one's life. Do not let poor choices deprive you of experiencing the joy of their existence

Fertility - Does Age Matter?
The young dream of excellence in career and a well settled life, running for improving the present and building the future. All this has changed the tempo of normal paced life. In the course of our busy lives, the hopes of a well planned, ideal future declines slowly, as age somehow creates hindrances Running with time, we tend to forget that age is a factor that draws the limitations for certain desires like having a family of own. With the changes in environmental and social scenarios as well as deterioration of health quality, the connection between age and fertility has strengthened to a great extent.

Age is like a clock ticking, moving ahead in time, and as you grow old so does your age of fertility. Understanding this biological clock will help you be aware about the effects of age on the chances of conception (conceiving) and also the health of the newborn. Although age affects the fertility of both men and women equally, it does discriminate between them to some extent - the biological clock in men is longer than women. That's because men can remain fertile throughout their life unlike women.

Age, Fertility and Men vs Women Looking young, feeling young and being young are all different when science comes into picture. Although some women may look young even in their 40's, that doesn't mean they're as fertile as women in 20's. Some men may look well built and fit at their late 30's or 40's, but this cannot explain the high likelihood of birth defects that occur when these older men have children.

Men - Time Trial Men can produce sperms throughout their lifetime after the onset of puberty. But, they have their own issues and disadvantages relating to age. As they grow older, the cells (Sertoli and Leydig in the testes) which are responsible for production and maturation of sperms start to deteriorate in viability and also decrease in numbers. Thus, although older men can produce sperms, these may have defects which may lead to birth abnormalities in children born to them. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition whose prevalence increases with age, causing problem in sexual functioning leading to infertility.

Women - Inborn Restrictions Women possess a finite number of eggs in their ovaries at the time of birth and that's all they have for their lifetime. One of these eggs is released every month as a part of the normal ovulation cycle. Thus, with every month and year that passes, the number of eggs in the ovaries decreases and the chances of them getting pregnant also starts decreasing.
The ability to reproduce in women is restricted to age because the multiplication of the germ cells (cells that give rise to mature eggs) in an unborn baby stops in around 20 weeks. Thus, women are born with fixed numbers of oocytes (eggs).

A female is born with around 50 lakh immature follicles that later develop into eggs. This number further decreases to about 5 lakh by the time she gets her first period (menarche). Then onwards, there comes a drastic decline in number of immature eggs with every menstrual cycle. In late 30's, number of eggs reaches to about 25,000, which comes down to only 1000 immature eggs left during menopause. Thus, the duration for which a woman is fertile is already decided before hand, and the chances of natural reproduction only decreases with increasing age.

Age vs Fertility Timeline
Best in 20's In Women
The possibility for normal conception is higher during this decade of lifetime. The reason being
Higher chances of successful fertilization
Lower likelihood of eggs with genetic abnormalities
Lower risk of miscarriages and abortion
Lower possibility of premature babies with health issues
Lower risk of inherited diseases and gestational conditions
Lower risk of hypertension, weaknesses and other problems in mothers during pregnancy

In Men Men have normal fertility; factors such as obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, unhealthy lifestyle may affect their sperm count and sperm quality.

Moderate in 30's In Women In the mid 30's, fertility begins to decline. There is a progressive deterioration in egg quality and quantity. The risks which follow are
Increased chances of genetic problems in newborns
Decreased chances of normal delivery
Higher chances of fetus growing outside the uterus, in the fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy)

In Men The levels of testosterone and number of sperm decreases around the mid 30's. This can lower the chances of successful conception.

Fragile in 40's In Women Getting pregnant in the 40's is not impossible, but the chances become minimal. That's because after 40's, there is a huge fall in the number of eggs in the ovaries.
The risks of miscarriages, ectopic pregnancy, genetic problems and chromosomal abnormalities (eg., Down Syndrome), still births, etc., occur at a higher probability.

In Men There is a considerable decrease in sperm count, sperm motility and semen quality.

Connection with other factors There is gradual decrease in fertility in men and women down the timeline of age. The prime reason that stillbirths and miscarriages increase with age is the decrease in quality of health due to hypertension and high high blood pressure, etc. These are the conditions which have higher chances of occurring with age. Health is also affected due to harmful habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, addiction to drugs, etc.

The world outside is too vast, too happening, too many chances and opportunities and extremely busy! The delay in marriages and family planning tend to overshadow the science that is associated with marital age. Conceiving a child is not impossible even at older age, the quality of life and health deteriorates with time and age, which is an important factor for a happy living.

Hormonal Affirmations Through Diagnosis Although the decline of fertility with ageing is well documented, age alone cannot exactly predict the fertility in either males or females. This is because, even in people within the same age group, there is considerable variation in reproductive capacity. For this, several diagnostic tests are available that can help assess fertility
Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH) FSH is responsible for production of eggs and production and transportation of sperms. The levels of FSH significantly rise with age as higher level of FSH accelerate the process of ageing of female reproductive system.
Testosterone This hormone is responsible for libido (sex drive), and production of sperms in males. The level of testosterone declines with increasing age, affecting sperm count and thus contributing to infertility in men.
Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) This test is conducted to evaluate the number of eggs produced in women. Lower level of AMH indicates diminishing ovarian reserve, which decreases with increasing age. Thus, it helps to measure ovarian ageing and assess menopause age.

When everyday is a new fight for a living why make age a barrier? Move along with it and not ahead of it.

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