Many men and women have plans to have children either at present or in the future. And so, it is important to take steps to prevent infertility.
Since infertility can occur because of problems with the male, female or both of them. It is important for both men and women to take steps to prevent infertility as much as possible by influencing the modifiable causes and risk factors of infertility. Not all cases of infertility can be prevented but this does not change the fact that it is wise to do what you can to prevent it, or at least reduce the risk, in the ways you can as this can make a positive difference.
Some of the things both men and women should do to reduce the chances of infertility:
- Avoid too much exercise: This has been found to be linked to infertility in both and women. It can cause reduced production of sperm in men. It can also cause a woman to see her menses irregularly or not at all, which points to a possible problem with ovulation. Moderate exercise is good enough.
- Alcohol: Both men and women should avoid heavy drinking of alcohol. It is recommended that not more than 3 alcoholic drinks should be taken in one day, and not more than 7 drinks should be taken in one week. Excess alcohol intake can cause problems with ovulation in women. In men, it can affect the movement of the sperm and the sperm count.
- Stop smoking: Smoking cigarettes is associated with infertility in men and women. It can affect the parts of your Fallopian tubes that help to move the egg to the womb (uterus) and this contributes to female infertility.
- Don’t use illicit drugs: Illicit drugs (like cocaine, marijuana) are associated with infertility. Smoking marijuana is associated with reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm movement. Some men take anabolic steroids which reduces sperm count.
- Practice safe sex: Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), especially gonorrhoea and chlamydia, can cause infertility by damaging the Fallopian tubes and uterus in women. In men, they can damage the channel (by blocking it) that sperm travels through before coming out of the penis. Having multiple sexual partners increases your chances of getting STDs. And so, it is advisable to abstain from sex, wear condoms or stay in a monogamous relationship. Abstinence is the surest way to avoid getting STDs.
- Don’t gain or lose too much weight: Monitoring your diet and maintaining a healthy weight are good for preventing infertility. So it is important to eat balanced diet. This is because men who are overweight or obese can have changes in their hormones that could reduce their sperm movement and production. And if a woman is overweight, obese anorexic or bulimic, ovulation can stop. And so, eating disorders should be treated to reduce chances of having difficulty trying to get pregnant.
- Reduce intake of any medication that can reduce fertility: Medications such as anti-psychotics, antidepressants, anti-epileptics, thyroid medications, may cause infertility.
- Regular health check-up is important
- Stay away from too much heat or prolonged heat as it reduces sperm count. Men can be exposed to excess heat in saunas, steam baths, hot baths, hot tubs. Long distance drivers are also at risk because the scrotum which contains the structures that store sperm is exposed to heat that is generated by sitting on the seat for prolonged periods.
- Don’t wear tight underwear because it also causes heat.
- Men should also prevent infertility by staying away from all forms of radiation (like x-rays). They reduce sperm production. Those who are exposed for prolonged periods have a higher risk. Men who work in the x-ray department of laboratories or hospitals and men who have undergone radiation treatment for cancer are at risk.
- Being exposed to certain chemicals like mercury, lead (which is found in some paints), DDT (found in pesticides) and other toxins decreases sperm production. These toxins, chemicals and heavy metals should be avoided.
- It is advisable to get pregnant at ages less than 35 years because fertility starts decreasing from age 30 and decreases even more from age 35.
- If you are sexually active and not ready for a pregnancy, use contraceptives. This is because abortions can have complications that may result in infertility.
- It is also advised that caffeine intake should be reduced or not taken at all.
- Reduce stress:
Psychological stress has been found to decrease ability to get pregnant. So, taking steps to reduce all forms of stress help prevent infertility (or reduce chances of infertility occurring).
Some cases of infertility are due to certain lifestyle choices made by the male and/or female trying to achieve pregnancy. If steps are taken to avoid the causes of infertility and to adopt a lifestyle that reduces chances of infertility that is due to modifiable factors, then the chances of having to battle with infertility are reduced.