Whether you’re thinking about getting pregnant or have been trying to conceive, it’s never too early (or too late) to evaluate what factors affect a woman’s fertility the most. Adopting healthy habits and getting rid of unhealthy ones can measurably improve your overall fertility health. Also, some lifestyle changes may promote/demote fertility in both the partners.
A senior embryologist and Founder of Indo Nippon IVF, Dr Goral Gandhi helps outline the factors that can help increase fertility among women, and factors to keep in mind before opting for assisted reproduction treatment.
One of the most important factors determining a women’s ability to conceive is her biological age. “A woman’s eggs age with her, decreasing in quality and quantity. This is why age plays one detrimental factor affecting a woman’s fertility. While good health improves the chance of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby, it does not override the effects of age on a woman’s fertility,” says Dr Goral Gandhi.
However, IVF has proven to be an effective treatment option for older women who want to get pregnantthrough egg freezing or cryopreservation.
Medical History/ Underlying hormonal issues
Infertility can result from underlying hormonal issues. Hormones are varied, unseen, and interactive, so evaluating a possible hormonal imbalance and its potential impact on fertility can be challenging. “Damage to reproductive organs or even certain medical treatments can jeopardize a woman’s fertility. Be it the pelvic inflammatory disease, PCOS, or endometriosis (a disorder causing swelling, cysts, or blockages that might prevent pregnancy),” explains Dr Goral Gandhi, best embryologist in Mumbai.
However, in many cases where medications do not respond to traditional fertility treatment, IVF treatment may provide the highest chance of success.
Although a woman’s age, genetics, and biology have the greatest impact on her fertility, the lifestyle choices play an equally important role. According to the ASRM, up to 13% of infertility may be attributed to tobacco intake. Other lifestyle factors, like weighing extreme on the scale (underweight or overweight), having an irregular sleep cycle, could also affect fertility by creating a hormone imbalance.
However, adopting a healthy diet including supplements known to improve reproductive health can lead to a healthy ovulation. Dieticians often recommend intake of organic foods and cold water fish such as salmon, along with whole grains, and freshly squeezed fruit juices for couples who are trying to conceive.
There are some individuals that might be prone to a genetic condition that may either stunt sperm cell development or make it nearly impossible for an embryo to successfully implant or develop normally in the uterus. Studies estimate that approximately 50 percent of infertility cases are caused by genetic issues. Family history plays a definite role when it comes to certain conditions that cause infertility.
That said, certain conditions that impact fertility can be genetic. “Age of menopause runs in families—so if a mom went through menopause at 40 (average age being 51), her daughter would have a somewhat higher chance of having an early menopause—meaning a slowing down of fertility earlier on,” explains Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Yale University.
If you’re a woman trying to conceive, and worried about any of the aforementioned factors, itis recommended to consult a fertility expert for evaluation and possible treatment options.