General health and body composition has an important role in reproductive ability and sperm parameters in men. Recent increase in male factor infertility and reducing sperm count and motility is closely linked with our change in lifestyle and food habits.
Malnutrition leads to overweight /underweight, both can affect fertility negatively. Adipose(fat) tissue is not just a fat store, but an endocrine gland and change in the fat volume and the fat composition can affect the hormonal and immune functions of the body. Preservatives colouring and flavouring agents, pesticides and weedicides in food, chemicals in cosmetic and body care agents and atmospheric pollution affects endocrine system and immune system leading to reproductive problems.
Fat in the body is stored in the form of inert triglyceride and when needed the fatty acids are released for energy use and cell membrane synthesis. There are four types of fatty acids in the body out of which saturated fatty acid and monounsaturated fatty acids are nonessential and the body can synthesize it from glucose. The polyunsaturated essential fatty acids omega 3 alpha linolenic acid(ALA) and omega 6 linolenic acid are called essential fatty acids(EFA), and the body cannot synthesize these fat. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid derivatives in the cell membrane act as messengers and bioactive substances influencing DNA transcription and protein synthesis. The balance of these two fatty acids is important for immune functions of the body. Nutrients, especially essential nutrients and specifically omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, decides the immune status of the body by controlling inflammatory and anti inflammatory activities of the body. Implantation and growth of the foetus inside the womb give a lot of challenges to the immune system of the mother due to the genetic differences between mother and foetus.
Gametes the egg and sperm production, fertilization, implantation and intrauterine growth of the foetus is controlled and maintained by the endocrine system of the body. Over growth of adipose tissue due to excess calorie in food and sedentary lifestyle create disturbance in hormone meleu of the body and affect fertility negatively. Human body is evolved on a diet with omega 6 to 3 fat ratio around 1:1. But in modern diet the omega 6 to 3 ratio has increased to around 1:20. This disturbance in the fatty acid ratio is the major reason for the increase in the diseases of modern era the so called lifestyle diseases. Omega 6 fat is inflammatory and omega 3 fat is anti inflammatory in nature and excess omega 6 fatty acid in cell membrane bilayer and in the fat store increases the inflammation in tissues and leading to diseases.
Dietary changes affecting nutritional balance, toxin overload from air, water, food products, cosmetic and body care products and associated hormonal changes negatively affect the quality of ovum and sperm, the ability of the uterus and mothers body to assist growth of the foetus in the uterus till term. These lifestyle factors affect the reproductive ability of the couple leading to infertility, abortion, complications of pregnancy like pregnancy associated hypertension, diabetes, congenital anomalies, preterm delivery and prematurity associated problems for baby etc. Treatment for infertility with all these modern gadgets is not giving positive results in many couples because of these underlying factors. Understanding the lifestyle factors affecting fertility and its correction before any active treatment like expensive drugs, surgery or ART procedures will improve the result and reduce the cost, time and stress associated with infertility. Above all correction of nutritional status and reducing the toxic load on the body will improve the physical, mental and intellectual ability of the expectant child.
In the case of couples living in different countries/ cities due to job and meat only a few months or travelling frequently, they need medical help to utilise the short time together most effectively by understanding the peek days of fertility. In women with regular menstrual cycles, 2 to 3 days in the cycle come as peek days, only if those days they are together and try for conception, the possibility of successful pregnancy occurs.
How to solve it?
First step is to assess the health and nutrition status of the couple and assessment of their fertility. For this a detailed history of their health and reproductive issues, semen analysis of the male partner, ultrasound scan of the uterus, ovaries and ovulation(follicular) study and a post coital cervical mucus test around peek day of the cycle are needed. This will give an overall fertility status of the couple. Physical examination and blood examination for assessing the nutritional status and general health is needed. If there is a problem in ovulation or in semen parameters, a hormone analysis and specialized investigations like genetic status assessment may be done as per need. After analysing the history, physical examination and investigation report corrective measures to be taken on an individual basis.
Most important lifestyle disorder associated with infertility is obesity. Obesity/ overweight leads to PCOD (polycystic ovarian syndrome) menstrual irregularities, hormonal imbalance and infertility in women. If conceived, while on overweight there is increased chances of pregnancy complications like abortion, gestational diabetes, hypertension, IUGR (intrauterine growth retardation), preterm birth etc. In men obesity leads to low sperm count, motility, semen volume and ejaculatory difficulty.
Weight reduction with optimized nutrient food support and cell stimulation practice increase metabolism, burnout the excess fat, reduce inflammation and balances the hormone secretion in the body. Correction of sex hormone secretion along with availability of nutrients in correct proportion from optimized nutrient compositions especially with enough omega 3 fat will correct egg and sperm production and improve the quality of sperm and egg. Cell support by reducing/ avoiding colouring agents, flavouring agents, preservatives and food additives and cosmetics will reduce toxic overload on the body and ensure better cell health and embryo quality. Only a healthy body can produce healthy sperm /egg and the health of the mother’s body and nutrition during pregnancy decides the growth and health of the baby.