Infertility is a disease of men and women’s reproductive organs that impairs one of the body’s most basic functions—the ability to have children. And although 6.1 million people (10 percent of the reproductive-age population) in the United States are infertile, unlike lung cancer or HIV/AIDS, people are rarely informed of the very direct links between their behavior and their reproductive health. Read below to learn how you can help prevent infertility in the future by examining your behavior now.
What Can I Do?
Smoking can seriously affect your ability have children. Research shows that smoking is harmful to a women’s ovaries, and the degree of damage is dependent upon the amount and length of time a woman smokes. Nicotine and other harmful chemicals in cigarettes interfere with the body’s ability to create estrogen, a hormone that regulates ovulation, and cause women’s eggs to be more prone to genetic abnormalities. While some damage is irreversible, stopping smoking now can prevent further damage.
For more information about smoking, visit the American Lung Association’s website at www.lungusa.org.
Twelve percent of all infertility cases are a result of a woman either weighing too little or too much. The main ingredient in the body weight and fertility mix estrogen—a sex hormone produced in fat cells. If a woman has too much body fat, the body produces too much estrogen and begins to react as if it is on birth control, limiting her odds of getting pregnant. A woman with too little body fat can’t produce enough estrogen and her reproductive cycle begins to shut down. Both under and overweight women have irregular cycles in which ovulation does not occur or is inadequate.
For more information about nutrition, visit the American Dietetic Association’s website at www.eatright.org.
Everyone knows that if you don’t practice safe sex, you might get pregnant. However, most people don’t know that if you aren’t using condoms now and you become infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI), you may never get pregnant in the future. STIs, transmitted form person to person through intimate sexual contact, infect one in three sexually active people by age 24. Common STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, genital wars, herpes simplex virus (genital herpes), hepatitis C & B, trichomoniasis, scabies, and pubic lice. STIs are a leading cause of infertility because they often display few, if any visible symptoms. Because women and men are frequently unaware that they have an STI, they fail to seek proper treatment and this threatens their fertility.
For more information about STIs, visit the Center for Disease Control’s website section on STI prevention at www.cdc.org.
It is a biological fact that fertility decreases with age. The decreased odds of getting pregnant are due to normal changes that occur with aging. Women are born with a limited number of eggs. Since no new ones are formed throughout a woman’s life, the number of eggs steadily declines over time. As women age the quality of their eggs declines as well. This doesn’t mean that you should run out and get pregnant, or resolve to never have kids. But you should understand the facts. Bottom line: every woman’s body ages at a different rate and there is no way of knowing for sure what your fertility will be like, say 10 years from now.
Protect Your Fertility , Find best fertility clinics and Visit Your fertility Doctor
- Visit your ob-gyn once per year. In addition to cancer prevention, you can also protect your fertility.
- Pay attention to your medical procedures, and work with your doctor to prevent inappropriate medical treatment (e.g., surgery done prematurely that could later affect your fertility).
- Listen to your body—if you have irregular or painful menstrual cycles, your body may be trying to tell you something. See your doctor.