Most couples dream of having a family, but these days fertility rates are steadily decreasing. Many modern couples have to go to considerable lengths to have a child, often relying on medical technology and medical professionals to solve their problem.
If you are among those dealing with an infertility issue, this article would provide some very useful information. We’re going to tell you how to avoid behaviors that reduce fertility and explain three possible ways to turn the problem around.
What is infertility?
Infertility is the condition in which a couple is ready to have children and have regular unprotected sex for a period of 6 months to 1 year, and yet the woman doesn’t become pregnant. The cause may lie with either the female or male partner or both. For example, a woman over 35 years of age may have a problem with ovulation such as incomplete eggs or a man may have low sperm count or incomplete sperms.
Risky behaviors that result in infertility
There are many risky behaviors that result in infertility. Let's see if you are affected by any of them.
- Having frequent stress – Stress hormones interfere with hormones in the reproductive system causing eggs to not fall or be incomplete.
- Drinking too much alcohol – High alcohol intake in men directly affects absorption of nutrients such as minerals and vitamins, causing reduced male vigor and sperm volume. In women, excessive alcohol consumption decreases chances of conceiving by 50%. Therefore, women who want to get pregnant shouldn’t have more than one drink a day, say 120 ml of wine.
- Consuming over 300 milligrams of caffeine per day – Consumption of the equivalent of three cups of caffeinated coffee a day have 26% less chance of getting pregnant.
- Smoking habit – Cigarettes contain toxins that are harmful to the body. Women who smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day have a lower ovulation rate and decreased performance of the uterus where embryos are implanted. In men, smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day increases the level of cadmium in semen causing the number and quality of sperm to decrease.
- Increasing age and lessening sex hormones – In women, a decrease in estrogen lowers the quality and quantity of ovulation. If pregnant, there is a high risk that the child will be disabled. In men, lower testosterone levels reduce the concentration of sperms in semen.
- Overweight or underweight – Either may result in lower fertility as the body has to adjust to be ready to have children. We can calculate our BMI, or ‘body mass index’, to check whether or not our weight is within the appropriate range. If your BMI is between 18.5 – 22.9, it means your weight is in proportion to your height.
- Inadequate exercise – Exercise promotes fertility and stimulates sex drive. So those with a healthy body are readier to conceive a child than those out of condition.
- Exposure to heavy metals such as lead or cadmium – Whether ingested by eating contaminated food or using cosmetics, heavy metal chemicals cause germ cells to function abnormally including those integral to operations in the ovaries.
Three medical methods that increase chances of conceiving a child
If both male and female change their behavior but remain infertile, they should see a specialist doctor who can try to help them attain their dream of starting a family. After a thorough diagnosis, the doctor will decide the most appropriate and effective course on a case-by-case basis. There are three main options, as follows:
- IUI (Intra – Uterine Insemination) or injecting sperm directly into the uterus. At least one million healthy sperm will be screened. Fewer than that reduces the chances of conceiving. After that, the screened semen is injected into the uterine cavity through a small plastic tube inserted into the cervix. The timing of the sperm injection must be during or close to ovulation. Once the sperms enter the uterine cavity, they swim to the egg through the fallopian tubes and fertilization can take place.
- IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is the fertilization and rearing of an embryo in the early stages. Sperm is screened and released so that it surrounds the egg in a petri dish, enabling it to penetrate the eggshell and enabling natural fertilization in the fallopian tubes. The strongest sperms penetrate the eggshell first and fertilize the egg so that it becomes an embryo. The embryo is then cultured in a medium under a controlled environment to give the best chance of a healthy embryo, ready to be transferred into the uterine cavity.
- ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection), or eczema, is an approach aimed at helping couples with low sperm count or weak sperm by helping the sperm penetrate the eggshell. The doctor prescribes hormones to stimulate the female and then collect multiple eggs. Next, the doctor selects and collects several healthy sperms from the male. Fertilization is done using a needle to thread sperm through the eggshell directly into the egg to create an embryo. After that, the embryo is cultured and implanted in a similar way to IVF.
If a couple has concerns that they might be infertile, they should seek advice and diagnosis from a doctor at a fertility center at a hospital or specialty clinic to find the cause and get a solution to the problem that will ultimately fulfill their dream after all.
Krungthai-AXA life insurance customers are eligible to join the Krungthai-AXA Privilege PLUS+ program. If you have questions about infertility, you can contact KTAXA Wellness Teleconsultation. For more information, please visit: https://www.krungthai-axa.co.th/th/WellnessConsultation
• Bangkok Hospital
• Phyathai Hospital
• Corporate Communication, Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital