1. Smoking, alcohol, and drugs
Smoking and alcohol can decrease a man’s sperm count and increase miscarriages in women. Smoking and alcohol can cause birth defects in the developing fetus. The negative effects of drug use are many and can last a lifetime.
2. Age and weight
Women are born with a limited amount of eggs, and ovulation starts decreasing around age 35. Sperm count in men starts decreasing around age 40. The female body is also better suited to carrying a pregnancy and delivering a child at a younger age. Childbirth after 35 is entirely possible, the chance of birth defects also increases dramatically after 35. Obesity in women can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, skipped ovulation, preeclampsia, and diabetes. Being underweight can result in complete shutdown of the female’s reproductive system. Obesity in men can lead to a decrease in sperm count, sperm quality, and erectile dysfunction.
3. Environmental factors
Environmental factors affecting fertility are more than poor air quality. Tobacco smoke can affect male and female fertility. Smoking disrupts the body’s endocrine functions. People who work in factories or in agriculture are often exposed to the harmful effects of extreme heat, industrial compounds, and pesticides. There is also an increased chance for trauma in the workplace due to the heavy equipment. Long-time exposure to heat can reduce sperm mobility and production. Exposure to radiation can render males infertile. Overtime, pesticides in food especially fruit and vegetables can cause a wide range of fertility issues by disrupting hormone levels.
4. Mental health
The effect of mental health on fertility is twofold. As fertility issues increase, mental health decreases. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can lower fertility by disrupting hormone levels. Infertility can lead to increased depression and anxiety. Fertility issues can also wreak havoc on a relationship and lead to a very large financial burden. Certain medications can cause weight gain, decreased sperm count, and interfere with ovulation.
Maintaining a stable mental state is crucial for fertility. Positive activities to relax the body and drive up happiness are greatly encouraged. Exercise and movement are good for the mind but should be done in moderation. Excessive exercise can negatively impact ovulation. Happiness relaxes the body and increases the chances of fertility.
5. STDs and STIs
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are entirely preventable. Unprotected sex is the leading cause of contracting an STD or STI. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most prominent STDs affecting fertility. Both cause damage to the reproductive tracts and can develop into pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women. Men cannot develop PID. Herpes is one of the most common STDs, but the affect on fertility is unknown. HIV often leads to a decrease in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. A decrease is the essential sex hormones can lead to erectile dysfunction and early menopause.
Most people will believe that pregnancy while breastfeeding is not possible. While difficult, pregnancy is possible. Breastfeeding impacts fertility because of the affect on ovulation. Breastfeeding suppresses the hormones that trigger ovulation. Often with menstruation returning for a few cycles before ovulation starts occurring again.
What can be done?
Always practicing safe sex will reduce the chances of contracting an STD/STI. Regular check-ups with medical professionals especially after changing sexual partners will ensure that any diseases or infections are treated, and are not spread unknowingly. A balanced diet and exercise can help maintain a healthy weight. There is no rush, but the body is more suited to having children around 25 than 45. Stopping smoking and alcohol consumption can increase a couple’s chance of becoming pregnant. Anything to reduce stress levels will have significant impact on fertility as well.