Did you know its Canadian Infertility Awareness Week? And 2 weeks ago it was the National Infertility Awareness Week in the US. Furthermore, did you know that 1 in 6 couples in Canada suffers from infertility and 1 in 8 couples in the US. When I read that of course given I am a single mother by choice I wondered why they’re referring to couples… I suppose that’s not the point. Needless to say if you’re not pregnant and you want to be you’re not alone! I usually talk about what you can do to increase fertility to look at it from the positive perspective, but in light of the fact that awareness is being brought to infertility this week I wanted to address some of the causes of infertility…
When things go wrong, when we can’t get pregnant, it’s natural to be upset and angry. We look for someone or something to explain it and we look for solutions. However, a quarter of all cases of infertility is unexplained. This means that no-one can find a reason for it. There are a number of possible reasons but it can be difficult to identity, which it is in your own case. One of the reasons may be hormonal imbalance and this can be attributed to either partner. In men, poor diet and lifestyle choices will affect his fertility. Ways to correct this imbalance include losing weight, eating more whole foods, cutting out alcohol and giving up smoking. The biggest cause of hormone imbalance in women is stress. Whether you actively feel stressed or not, if you’re trying to get pregnant and things are not going well then you are probably more stressed than you’re letting on. You know what makes you laugh, what makes you relax and feel good, so do it!
Low cervical mucous also contributes to infertility because you need it to help the sperm make their way to the cervix. You can increase your cervical mucous through drinking more water and exercising because sitting down a lot lowers the circulation to the reproductive organs.
In most cases, infertility can be explained. Ovulation problems are very common and can result from polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid problems (overactive or underactive) or premature ovarian failure where the ovaries have stopped working. Scarring from cervical surgery, fibroids (non-cancerous growths) around the womb, infections caused by sexually transmitted diseases and endometriosis can damage the fallopian tubes that connect with the ovaries making it difficult for sperm to pass through.
Many medicines can also cause infertility as a side effect. These include, for women; NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen and aspirin, chemotherapy drugs, neuroleptic medicines and spironolactone which is used against fluid retention. Men should check the side effects of drugs such as sulfasalazine which is an anti-inflammatory drug, anabolic steroids used for muscle building and herbal remedies such as root extracts like the Chinese herb Tripterygium as well as chemotherapy drugs. For both men and women illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine will also seriously affect fertility.
In this infertility week it’s important to recognize that there’s a lot you can do to increase fertility and that focusing on improving diet and exercise by eating healthily and getting plenty of exercise will contribute hugely to your fertility and prepare your body for a healthy and successful pregnancy.