Author: Dr. Sankalp Singh [Director, Reproductive Medicine Unit, ART Consultant MD, MRCOG (UK)]
In this world, most of us relate fertility as a gift of God.We try to find mythological reasons for this infertile condition for women or men. However, most of these women or men are not infertile by birth. Majority of infertile people acquire this condition during their development stages. There are several factors that make a man or woman infertile. Some of the key external factors which deteriorate quality and quantity of eggs and sperms in male and female are food habits, use of cosmetics, type of clothing and style,nature of work, quality of water, air, sound pollution other environmentalfactors.
We may divide these into three major categories
a) What we eat and drink as well as apply on our body (such as cream,soaps, shampoo, etc.)
b) What we inhale , breath and the invisible rays which pass through our body generally categories as radiation
c) What we think and do which is categorised asmental health during our life, which relate to stress,pressure, sleepdisorders, stretched working hours,anxiety, depression etc.
How it impacts fertility of person?
We eat and drink everything which normally certified as edible and naturally available on the surface of earth, however we are unaware of the chemical contents we consume along these food and drink and its impact on fertility. At the same time some of us knowingly consume substance like alcohol and tobacco which destroys potential for fertility.
What happens to our body when we eat and drink and how it affects fertility?
If we eat and drink food stuff which contains harmful chemicals, it can reduce the egg/sperm number as well as quality.
The chemicals reduce the normal hormone secretion from the brain.
Damage the eggs /sperms directly in the ovaries/testis by causing ovarian /testicular tissue damage due to inflammation.
Examples of such Food items are – food containing harmful preservatives, food items stored in plastic containers, hot food packed in plastic, aluminium sheets leading to leeching of chemicals etc.
Chemicals include: Bisphenol A in plastics, Phthalate esters in PVC pipes.
Action – they disrupt the endocrine (hormone) function. They are also known as endocrine disrupting chemicals.
What happens to our body, when we get exposed to air pollution, radiation, invisible rays and how it impacts our reproductive capabilities?
It leads to reduction in gamete quantity and quality.By increasing level of reactive oxygen species- a marker of inflammation in body. This leads to DNA damage in the gametes.
Also, it is a contributory factor for increasing the stress levels, Reduces follicular growth and ovulation. Reduces hormone production from the brain
We strain, stress and exerts extra load on our mind to succeed in academics, profession and life. How maintaining balance mental health helps fertility?
Brain is the master organ of the body. Any stress effects its functionality. Since the process of fertility depends on the hormones produces by the brain, fertility potential reduces when the brain malfunction.Stress Reduces secretion of Gonadotropin releasing hormone which is needed for production of gonadotropin hormones.
In Our daily practise we see number of patient who became obese, exposed to radiation, lived in high temperature environment, worked at oil fields, etc. etc.
We had a patient who worked as plant operator for an oil refinery in gulf. Due to high heat and pressure environment, He had extremely low sperm count. We suggested him a temporary change of atmosphere from plant to office job. His superior accepted his request and started working in office. He sperm count improved within a month and was able have a child of his own.
Junk food can easily make one obese.
Another patient of ours who was obese, weighing 95 KG was working in stressful IT sector. Her shift was from 4:00 to 11:00 AM which threw her out of her sleep cycle. Due to stress eating, she gained weight and had irregular ovulation. We suggested her to discontinue doing night shifts and work at stress-free environment to get enough sleep at night and a fertility friendly diet upon which she was able to bring downher weightto 84 KG and proper ovulation was restored. She was able to deliver a healthy child when she was relieved of her stress.
Post cancer treatment patients – have low egg number and have difficulty in having pregnancy. We have treated a lot of such patients successfully.
It is never late to adapt a healthy life style and improve our reproductive health; these are few tips which will help you improve your reproductive health.
- Take plastics out of your life as much as possible.Don’t pack hot food in plastic containers.
- Use steel bottles and containers.
- Avoid using microwave.
- Wash all vegetables and fruits properly before use – you can soak then in water mixed with baking soda for 30 min.
- Avoid veggies and fruits which are coming from faraway places as they surely will have chemicals for the transit process.
- Anything you apply over your skin – 60 % of it is going to get inside your body, so be careful and use only what’s needed rather than for fashion.
- User landline more. Reduce internet usage.
- Switch on Wi-Fi only when using rather than 24×7.
- Do yoga/meditation or anything that can reduce your stress.