The fertility health of a couple is important for conception. Fertility is the ability to conceive and bear children and to become pregnant through normal sexual activity. When a couple has been trying to conceive for more than a year with unprotected sex without any success, it is time to consult a fertility expert.
Besides biological factors, various other factors like social, environmental, occupation and lifestyle habits affect the fertility health of the couple.
The fertility rate of a population is defined as the average number of children born to a woman of childbearing age (15 years to 44 years). The birth rate is defined as the number of live births per 1000 of the population each year. In the last 30 years, India has seen a marked decline in the fertility rates of the country. According to recent numbers, the fertility rate in India has dropped from 4.82 in 1980 to 2.2 per woman in 2020. This helps in the population stabilisation of the country. On the other hand, subfertility and infertility are on the rise in India and it is a matter of concern for society.
FACTORS AFFECTING FERTILITY HEALTH
Age- With advancing age, the number and quality of the eggs decrease in women. As they approach the mid to late 30s, the decrease becomes more profound. Experts also emphasise that male fertility also decreases with age.
Previous Pregnancy- Couples who have conceived once have a higher chance of getting pregnant again
Duration of Subfertility- Experts say that couples who have been trying to conceive for a shorter duration have a higher success rate for pregnancy than couples with a longer duration of subfertility.
Timing and Frequency of Sexual Intercourse- Menstrual cycle is of 28-days for most women. Women are most fertile between 12 to 16 days of the cycle. Ovulation occurs usually in the mid-cycle around 14th day in a 28 days cycle.
Weight- Overweight and obese women might have irregular periods and face difficulty in getting pregnant. However, experts say that by reducing 5% to 10% of their weight, they can restore a regular menstrual cycle and increase the chance of getting pregnant. Obesity in males also decreases sperm numbers and quality.
Smoking- As per scientific evidence smoking is harmful both in males and females. It decreases sperm quality. According to data, smoking increases the chances of difficulty getting pregnant by 300% (three times).
Alcohol- There are conflicting reports on how alcohol consumption might affect fertility. Some reports suggest that drinking more than five units of alcohol may decrease fertility in women. Excessive Alcohol intake in males is harmful to sperm quality and increases the chances of male infertility.
Medical Conditions- There are some medical conditions like thyroid issues and vitamin D deficiency—these decrease fertility in both men and women.
The fertility rate is dependent on several factors like medical, social, environmental and lifestyle of couple. Lifestyle modification with exercise and healthy diet and a stress-free environment can go a long way in ensuring fertility. Prevention is always better than cure.
The writer is Consultant & Advisor, Birla Fertility & IVF.