A study by the Indian Assisted Reproduction Society found that infertility affects about 10-14% of Indian couples and is more common in cities, where one in six couples seek help.
More and more women are showing signs of declining fertility and low egg reserves after age 30. As more women enter their 30s without a child, trends and statistics indicate that delayed motherhood is becoming the norm. Although known triggers and physiological conditions continue to affect women’s hormones, the latest research shows how a sedentary and connected lifestyle is robbing women of their work-life balance and affecting their gynecological health. A sedentary lifestyle or physical inactivity are more likely to make a woman infertile than a man. It often causes hormonal imbalances, polycystic ovary disease and weight problems that affect the embryo. Body mass index (BMI) is a crucial factor and being overweight or underweight is not conducive to egg production.
Causes of infertility
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Infertility can be caused by disorders that cause infrequent ovulation or no ovulation. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hypothalamic dysfunction and early ovarian failure are some of the common abnormalities.
Also, for some women, damaged fallopian tubes can lead to infertility as they prevent sperm from reaching the egg or the fertilized egg from reaching the uterus.
Then there is endometriosis. This chronic disorder can damage eggs and sperm causing inflammation in the body and uterine lining. Polyps or cancer in the uterus, birth abnormalities, cervical stenosis, and other uterine problems can also lead to infertility in women.
One of the main reasons for infertility is a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle combined with excessive stress and an unhealthy diet. Unhealthy habits increase the chance of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, which can also lead to infertility.
As women made the transition from cooking to work effectively, this led to increased stress and compromised physical and emotional health. Young women are so concerned with doing their jobs and taking care of their home at the same level that they neglect the reproductive cycle or the biological clock. Various studies have been conducted by scientists around the world to investigate the subject. Below are some of the significant findings from these studies:
* Due to higher stress levels or physically demanding jobs, women are more likely to be infertile; women who have to lift or handle large goods in the workplace are particularly vulnerable.
* Working women often overload themselves with work, putting their bodies under unnecessary physical and mental stress.
* Women’s hormones change due to excessive stress. It causes a decrease in the levels of estrogen, which is necessary for reproduction.
* In women subjected to physical stress at work, the number of antral follicles and ovules decreases.
* Women who work nights are more likely to be sterile and have fewer eggs. Night shifts are very contrary to the body’s natural processes. Additionally, changes in sleep patterns induce hormonal abnormalities in women who work in rotational shifts and cause polycystic ovary disorders.
* Working mothers have additional stress as they try to reconcile family and work, which could cause secondary infertility (inability to conceive the second time).
* A connected lifestyle can cause more harm than good. Electromagnetic waves (EMW) have been reported to partially induce adverse effects on women’s fertility and reproductive ability. Some studies suggest that prolonged use of laptops, cell phones, tablets, microwaves, and similar touch devices can delay egg production simply because they keep you static and not agile, which is necessary for hormones to be in balance.
Infertility is just one of the many problems that can negatively impact working women. Here are some ways they can fix the problem.
* Take regular breaks to manage stress.
* Avoid snacking if you work late at night.
* Focus on a nutritious and balanced diet.
* Develop healthy habits like yoga and exercise.
* Maintain a healthy lifestyle
* Aim for business hours that fall within business hours, so you don’t take on an additional burden.
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Medical advances to the rescue
Over the past decade, the number of infertile couples and fertility treatment providers in India has increased significantly.
With innovations in medical technology, infertile couples can now have biological children with the help of in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), intrauterine insemination (IUI) and so on. In vitro fertilization (IVF) has been successful in about 90% of cases and it is estimated that over eight million babies are born through this procedure worldwide. But before consulting a specialist, try some lifestyle changes.
Dr. Rutuja R Athawale is an infertility specialist