Our Vices: Causes of Infertility?
Sure, we all have our vices. Some people smoke, others enjoy having a few beers after work. Many can't even think of starting their day without a cup of coffee. But all of these little pleasures can take a toll on your reproductive system and create fertility problems.
It is well known that every cigarette is laced with numerous chemicals and toxins which can lead to cancer, emphysema and numerous other respiratory issues. What is perhaps less well known is the fact that male smokers have a lower sperm count and a higher incidence of abnormal sperm compared to non-smokers. Although many factors can contribute to reducing sperm counts in men who smoke, studies have shown sperm counts rise when a man stops smoking. This indicates that it is the chemicals within the cigarettes that are responsible for lowering sperm counts.
It is not just men who are affected, though. Smoking has also been shown to decrease the quality of a woman's eggs. A recent Dutch study found that female smokers are less likely to conceive through IVF than non-smokers. Additionally, smokers are more likely to have to try for more than a year to conceive. The chemicals contained within cigarettes are also thought to interfere with your hormonal system, which will affect your reproductive system.
Coffee, Caffeine, and Female Infertility
Starting your day off with a cup of joe may help you wake up, but it can put your fertility to sleep. In clinical studies on women, drinking coffee was found to decrease their ability to conceive within 12 months. The more coffee the women drank, the more their fertility rate went down. While women who drank one cup of coffee a day had a 55% increased chance of infertility, women who drank three or more cups of coffee a day were 176% less likely to be able to conceive within a 12-month period.
Although many couples have conceived after an evening of a few too many drinks, alcohol does negatively impact your fertility. Studies done on male rats who were administered an "intoxicating" dose of alcohol 24 hours before mating were found to have a 50% reduction in conception rates. In humans, alcohol has been shown to lower sperm count and cause temporary impotence in men. Alcohol also interferes with ovulation and menstrual cycles in women. Moreover, it can reduce your libido, an obvious hindrance to conceiving.
Drugs Are Linked to Male Infertility
Cocaine use tends to affect men more than women, although cocaine use during pregnancy can significantly increase a fetus' risk of birth defects. In men, cocaine use has been found to lower sperm counts, reduce the sperms' motility and increase the number of abnormal sperm. Using cocaine just before conceiving has also been linked to birth defects in children.
Male sperm count can also be lowered through the use of marijuana. Again, the number of abnormal sperm increases through the use of this drug. In female monkeys, marijuana was found to stop ovulation for a period of three to four months. It is believed that the THC contained within marijuana suppresses the hypothalamus, thereby inhibiting proper hormonal function. Further studies have found that women using both alcohol and marijuana have significantly impaired fertility rates compared to women who use just one substance.
Tips for Increasing Fertility
The damage to your fertility caused by these substances can be reduced, and possibly even reversed, if you cut them out of your life. Talk with your health care provider for advice on how to quit smoking, using recreational drugs and reducing your intake of caffeine and alcohol.