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What do you know about your fertility?

August 3, 2018
Katie Visco

Let’s face it: fertility is complicated. It’s difficult to fully comprehend what’s going on with our bodies at all times. That being said, even if you aren’t trying to conceive, it is important to have a general understanding of our fertility and how our systems work. A study published inJune 2018 revealed that many reproductive-age people have a low-to-moderate understanding of their fertility. Why is this? And, if you’re a person at the reproductive-age, what should you know?

  • What do people know about their fertility?
  • Here’s what you should know
  • An extra resource

What do people know about their fertility?

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‍A study was done to find out just how much reproductive-age people know about fertility awareness, infertility risk factors, and the consequences of delaying childbearing.

A study was published in the Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences in June 2018 that researched exactly what reproductive-age people know about fertility awareness (FA), infertility risk factors, and consequences of delaying childbearing. In addition, the study aimed to find correlations between fertility knowledge and the variables of gender, age, education, and reproductive status.

The main results of the study concluded that reproductive-age people have inadequate knowledge when it comes to fertility. It explains, “The main results showed that participants report low-to-moderate FA. Higher levels of FA were shown by women, highly educated individuals, people who reported difficulties with conceiving, and those who had planned their pregnancies.” The study suggests that programs to increase fertility awareness are warranted, especially those targeting men, individuals with low education, and in family planning settings.

Here’s what you should know

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Here are the basics when it comes to how lifestyle and age impact fertility.

The study showed that people of the reproductive age have less than adequate knowledge when it comes to fertility awareness, infertility, and delaying childbearing. We’ve rounded up all of the topics in the study to break them down and give you the basics.

According to the report, “The topics explored included awareness regarding the definition of infertility, the factors affecting fertility and lifestyle risk factors, age-related fertility decline, the fertile period, and the consequences of delaying childbearing.” Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Definition of infertility

The International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies defines infertility as “a disease characterized by the failure to establish a clinical pregnancy after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse or due to an impairment of a person’s capacity to reproduce either as an individual or with his/her partner.”

Infertility can be brought on by multiple factors including genetics, lifestyle choices, and age.

Sexually transmitted infections

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis, as well as HIV/AIDS. STIs are mainly caused by over 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Some STIs are do not impact fertility, but some do cause infertility and all directly affect reproductive organ health.

Alcohol consumption

When you’re pregnant, alcohol consumption can lead to congenital anomalies and pregnancy loss, but drinking can also impact your fertility. Alcohol can affect fertility in both men and women, including ovarian reserve, steroid hormone production, sperm quality and fecundability.

Smoking

Just like alcohol, smoking can cause low birth weights and defects if you smoke when you’re pregnant, but it can affect your fertility before you’re pregnant, as well. According to Your Fertility, “Smoking affects each stage of the reproductive process, including egg and sperm maturation, hormone production, embryo transport, and the environment in the uterus. It can also damage the DNA in both eggs and sperm.”

Weight

Being over or underweight can equally affect your chances of getting pregnant. Being overweight can increase estrogen production, and too much of the natural hormone can actually suppress ovulation and prevent your period. On the flip side, if you are underweight your body can stop producing estrogen, which has the same effect: stopping ovulation and preventing menstruation.

Secondary infertility

In less developed countries, abortions, pregnancy-related infections, and inadequate delivery care can cause secondary infertility.

Age-related infertility

The study says, “Advanced female age is related to fewer and poorer-quality follicles, obstetric morbidity, and perinatal complications”, and this is true. As a woman ages her fertility declines during menopause, a time when her menstrual cycle gradually comes to a stop. While some causes of infertility can be reversed (alcohol, smoking, weight, etc), age-related infertility is inevitable.

The fertile period

The fertile period is the small window of time when you can become pregnant every month. Once a month, you ovaries release a mature egg during a process called ovulation. Once the egg is released it travels to the fallopian tubes where it stays for 24 hours. If the egg isn’t fertilized, it will die and the process of menstruation will begin.

Consequences of delaying childbearing

Even with the advanced technology of IVF, older women tend to have more complicated and high-risk pregnancies. With advanced age comes the higher chance of miscarriage, and women over 35 are more likely to have multiples, premature births, cesarean sections, underweight infants, and stillbirths. In addition, children with older fathers tend to have higher rates of learning disabilities, autism, schizophrenia, and certain cancers.

An extra resource

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‍The eIVF blog is a great resource for every fertility related!

The research was focused on how much reproductive-age people know about how lifestyle and age affect fertility, as well as the consequences of delaying childbearing. We went over the topics in the study, but there is so much out there to learn!  The eIVF blog is a great resource when it comes to learning about your fertility. From new developments in reproductive sciences to information on how to have a healthy pregnancy, eIVF is a great place to go to learn about your body.

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