The long and stressful drive or ride to work, taking the elevator to office, clicking on the laptop or desktop and spending long hours in front of it to meet tough deadlines and finally hitting back home only to be a couch potato- are all activities that increase the risk of infertility. This seemingly not so harmful everyday life of urban Indians, is in actuality causing great harm to them. Doctors attribute this fast-paced, but sedentary lifestyle to be one of the most important contributing factors leading to the northward graph of infertility in urban areas. And this applies not just to women, but to men as well, because a couple can be infertile due to issues in either any one of the spouses or both of them.
This urban lifestyle generally comprises a daily schedule sans any exercise at all, coupled with tremendous amount of work pressure and stress. And doctors are of the opinion that these have a long term impact on the fertility of both men and women. Obesity is a big problem that is now being seen in many urban Indians, and this often interferes with the fertility issue especially of women. Even in men obesity is known to cause certain hormonal disturbances that might affect their fertility aspect.
Apart from this, infertility also seems to be linked to the change in social values with promiscuity becoming an order of the day. Doctors opine that STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases), excessive usage of contraception, especially emergency contraceptives and abortion of first conception are also major causative factors leading to infertility. These practices come with a risk of infection of various kinds like uterine and genital infections that affect one’s fertility.
Suggested best practices to prevent infertility in both men and women:
• Avoid sitting for long hours with the laptop or desktop
• Have a healthy and nutritious diet
• Indulge in routine exercising
• Avoid multiple sexual partners
• Get into routine stress busting activities
• Avoid emergency contraceptive pills (only for women)
• Avoid abortion (only for women)
• Avoid drinking and smoking
In fact time constraints, on account of travel schedule and career plan is now pushing more and more couples to take the artificial route for bringing in their bundle of joy. With changing priorities in urban lifestyle, both men and women first prefer to establish themselves well enough before marriage and that has led to the trend of delayed marriages. And even after marriage, with this kind of a hectic lifestyle which is jam-packed between meetings, conferences and on-site travel, couples are rarely left with the time and leisure for intimate moments, which is a pre requisite for conception. In a scenario like this, couples suddenly wake up to societal pressure and do not mind trying assisted reproductive technology because they do not have the patience to wait for the natural course. That explains the reason behind the mushrooming IVF clinics in India.
It is not just women whose fertility takes a hit due to lifestyle changes, men are not spared either. Fall in sperm count of men in their reproductive years is now a serious problem, and the crisis is really acute in India. One of the main factors affecting male fertility is spending long hours with the laptop, especially with the laptop placed on one’s lap. Excess heat is known to affect the quality of sperm. Other factors like wearing tight trousers and underwear, bathing in very hot water, consuming excess amount of caffeine and obesity are also known to affect fertility.
While there are a host of factors, all elements of urban living that seem to be affecting fertility in urban Indians; doctors unanimously agree on the point that tremendous amount of stress does have an implication in this aspect. Doctors reiterate that stress does affect the timing of ovulation in women which hinders conception and in men it does affect the sperm quality and motility. In fact apart from work related stress, the extreme amount of societal pressure for the so called ‘good news’ that builds up on the couple after some time of marriage also adds to the stress.