Generally, one major factor considered to affect fertility is age. As you grow older, your organs, hormones and system seem to deteriorate.
But apart from this, there are other external and non-modifiable lifestyle factors that also affects the fertility of a woman and they include smoking, elevated consumption of caffeine and alcohol, stress, agonist sports, chronic exposure to environmental pollutants and other nutritional related issues.
In addition to the aforementioned, other metabolic disorders like diabetes, obesity, and hyperlipidaemia which are associated to an intake of high caloric diet could also interfere with a woman’s fertility.
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse.
Infertility has really become a thing of concern in the modern society and its recurrence affects about 20-30% of the female population globally.
In Nigeria, about 10-30% of couples are saddled with the burden of infertility
The World Health Organization (WHO) reporting up to 80 million women world-wide having been affected by this disease to date, with a prevalence of ~50% of all women in developing countries.
There are possible gynaecological issues or systemic diseases that poses a threat female fertility, but asides these, unbalanced nutrition and unhealthy diet also interfere with reproduction processes in women.
Gradually, inadequate weight gain due abnormal energy supply, extreme restrictions, and inadequate intake of nutrients (both macro and micro), have a detrimental impact on the normal functioning of the ovaries.
Taking a proactive approach could help curb emotional stress and even cut financial costs attached to infertility problems.
Your odds at getting pregnant might just be improved by being intentional about your diet, effectively dealing with stress and being more active.
POSSIBLE LIFESTYLE FACTORS THAT AFFECTS FERTILITY
1. SMOKING: Smoking, be it first or second-hand smoke, can have a negative impact on the reproductive process for women. Cadmium and cotinine are two specific toxins found in tobacco smoke which can reduce egg production.
2. ALCOHOL: there are no safe levels for alcohol if you’re planning to conceive
3. BMI: for females wanting to conceive, body weight is of the essence and should not be overlooked. A BMI higher than 30 could impact hormonal imbalances and affect fertility processes.
4. RECREATIONAL DRUGS: use of some illicit drugs could have a great impact on fertility for women. Women who are expectant shouldn’t use heroin, ecstasy, marijuana and other illicit drugs.
WHAT ARE SOME POSSIBLE CAUSES OF INFERTILITY?
– Unexplained Infertility: reason of infertility is unknown and can’t be linked to any external or internal factors. Most times, more than a year of trying to conceive.
– Endocrine Disorders (PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome): these sort of disorders leads to an alteration of sex hormones in the female body thereby leading to elevated insulin levels and overproduction of testosterone (male hormone).
– Anatomical Abnormalities & Anomalies (Endometriosis, Uterine Irregularities): conditions where similar tissues to the ones inside your uterus, grows outside of the uterus. These conditions subject the uterus to be shaped in abnormal ways; heart shaped, unicorn shaped etc. (fibroids and polyps also included)
HOW DOES DIET AFFECT FERTILIY?
A number of dietary considerations should be considered in order to curtail hormonal fluctuations in females. The adequacy of a diet totally influences the functionality of hormones in the female body, especially fertility related hormones,
Let’s see some dietary considerations that directly affects hormonal response in the female body.
1. WHOLE GRAINS: whole grains are lower in glycemic index (their ability to increase blood glucose per time), and help increase chances of reduced insulin resistance in females. Insulin resistance poses a huge threat of inflammatory disorders and weight gain which directly affects hormonal balances in the female body. Whole grains include oatmeal, millet, bulgur, corn etc.
2. PROTEINS: getting most of your proteins from plant sources could help women with ovulatory issues. Isoflavones contained in soy products have been shown to positively affect ovulation and also helps women undergoing ART (assisted reproductive technology). Also, a higher intake of dairy products has been linked to decreased risk of endometriosis. Successful incorporation of dairy products into the diet of females, would have a great impact on fertility.
3. HEALTY FATS: trans-fat negatively affects fertility, enhance inflammation, and also play a role in egg quality and implantation. It’s very important to know the types of fats which are healthy and take out the unhealthy ones. Fats from nuts, avocado, seeds and fatty fish are healthy fats.
Also, supplementation with omega-3 fatty (500-1000mg) acid may help reduce the amount of male hormones circulating in the system (testosterone), thereby reducing risks of developing PCOS and regulating menstrual cycle.
4. SUPPLEMENTATION: supplementing with vitamins like folate, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 has been shown to improve better embryo quality and reduce risks of ovulatory infertility. Antioxidants also has shown to support and provide the eggs with adequate nutrition. Other supplements of importance include glutathione and CoQ10.
A correct balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and vitamins in the daily diet helps provide optimum female reproductive health and reduce risk of infertility possibly caused by inflammation and hormonal imbalances.
Does diet really affect fertility? – A few useful tips from Fertifa’s nutrition expert