It can be exhausting, stressful, frustrating and depressing for couples when they are trying to conceive a child and the pregnancy tests keep coming back negative. Morale could be low and fights between couples may occur especially when they really want to have a child of their own and cannot understand why they have not gotten pregnant yet. There could be a variety of external or internal influences causing infertility (inability to conceive).
Causes Of Infertility
Living an unhealthy lifestyle may affect your fertility and ability to fall pregnant. There are a couple of lifestyle choices that may influence the struggle which we need to change to increase the likelihood of conceiving. Genetics may play a role as well as some diseases.
Lifestyle Choices That Affect Fertility
- Smoking: smoking enhances the rate of ovarian follicle ageing and can cause early onset of menopause.
- Caffeine overload: coffee is a lifeline for most people, considering how busy our lives have become, but reducing your caffeine intake is important as more than 5 cups of coffee a day has been linked to infertility.
- Increased alcohol intake: most people enjoy a drink or two when out with friends or celebrating a birthday, but in order to increase fertility, it is suggested that it be an occasional occurrence or avoided altogether.
- Couch potato: moderate exercise (150 minutes per week) has been linked to couples conceiving faster than those who do no exercise.
- Over-exercising: severe weight loss and hormonal imbalance will result in a longer time to conceive.
- Takeaways, unhealthy food or junk food: minimise the intake of sugar, trans fats and processed foods as this will keep your weight balanced and your insulin levels in check.
- Stress, stress and more stress: chronic stress can induce a hormone imbalance which will affect your ability to conceive.
The cause for infertility could be male or female-related but couples tend to think the problem lies with the female only. Male infertility could be a common reason for not conceiving. Low sperm count or low sperm quality could be the problem. According to a study, in more than 40% of couples, the infertility issue is sperm related and not based on female infertility.
The female in the relationship may also be struggling with her own fertility issues and this constitutes another 40% of the research that was conducted. This may be due to age, low egg quality, egg abnormalities, blockages in the various reproductive organs or hormonal imbalances.
What Can I Do To Get Pregnant?
There are various options to consider when struggling with infertility issues. Consulting a doctor will enable you to make the correct decision for you and your partner. Some options that are available include:
- Sleep: get enough sleep to ensure you are well-rested and less stressed.
- Healthy diet: lower your intake of caffeine, sugar and trans fast.
- Exercise: make sure to get enough exercise.
- Nutritional supplements: take supplements such as folic acid to assist with general reproduction functions.
- Sperm donors: if the infertility problem stems from the male sperm cells, an option would be to use a sperm donor.
- Egg donors: if the fertility problems stem from the quality of the female’s egg, an egg donor may be used where the male partner and the donor's egg will be fertilised and implanted into the female partner's uterus.
- IVF (in vitro fertilisation): female’s eggs are harvested and the male’s sperm cells are fertilised in a laboratory and the most viable embryos are selected for implantation.
- ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection): this is an assisted reproduction technique and is usually used when the male suffers from severe infertility.
Don't Give Up Hope
The journey of trying to conceive can be emotionally and physically taxing for couples. It is important to recognise that infertility can have various causes, both external and internal, affecting both men and women. Lifestyle choices, such as smoking, excessive caffeine and alcohol intake, sedentary behaviour, unhealthy diet, and chronic stress, can impact fertility.
Seeking professional guidance is crucial to understand the underlying causes and explore appropriate solutions. Options such as sperm or egg donation, IVF, and ICSI are available for couples facing fertility challenges. Additionally, maintaining a balanced lifestyle, including adequate sleep, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and appropriate nutritional supplements, can contribute to optimising reproductive health. Remember, infertility is a shared struggle, and support and understanding are essential throughout the process.