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The epidemic of infertility

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JOCELYN HAS BEEN FEATURED ON:

Whether from stigma, embarrassment or shame, couples’ challenges with fertility and infertility are far too rarely discussed in the open. Because they hear so little about their peers’ challenges, my patients are always surprised to hear how common it is to experience fertility challenges – in Canada and around the world.

In fact, there is currently a global epidemic of rising infertility rates, with approximately 25 per cent of couples unable to achieve pregnancy within one year. That’s one in four couples!

Most troublingly, only 15 per cent of these couples will seek medical treatment for their fertility challenges, when there are many viable opportunities to boost egg and sperm health leading to improved odds of a healthy pregnancy.

Given that so many people take fertility for granted as a “biological imperative” and part of our evolutionary programming, what’s going on with these rising infertility rates? Here are some suspected contributing factors based on the latest research:

1) advanced age of both men and women at time of conception – due to delays in finding the right partner, and feeling financially secure enough to plan for a family

2) declining egg and sperm quality – primarily due to oxidative damage from compounds and toxins in the environment and our food and water supply, as well as increased radiation from carrying cell phones

3) nutritional deficiencies from poor-quality food and less-than-optimal eating habits – including low Vitamin D, anti-oxidants, zinc and omega 3s

4) increases in hormonal imbalances (both male and female), particularly from xeno-estrogens in our environment (plastics, PCBs, etc.)

5) increases in obesity along with increases in sedentary lifestyle that affect egg and sperm quality, as well as hormonal balance

6) increases in inflammatory and auto-immune conditions affecting both egg and sperm quality as well as ability to carry a pregnancy to terms

7) increases in marijuana, alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription medications affecting egg and sperm quality

Before we medical practitioners can begin to address these health issues and move toward boosting couple’s chances of achieving healthy pregnancies, we must first acknowledge that infertility is reaching the level of a global epidemic. Step One is to normalize conversations about fertility challenges with both men and women in our practices, so they know they are not alone in their struggles, and that there may be unseen avenues yet to pursue.

I hope you have found this helpful, and do let me know if you have any questions!

If you are hungry for more evidence-based information in your pregnancy, sign up for my free webinar: 7 Pregnancy Myths Debunked – and get the information you need to have a healthy pregnancy and a thriving baby.

And if you are a care-provider looking for evidence-based resources for your fertility patients, please get in touch with us at support@myhealthypregnancyplan.com.

In health,
Dr Jocelyn Land-Murphy, ND
Terra Life

Disclaimer: The information and content provided is for general educational and informational purposes only and is not professional medical advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute therefore. Please consult the Disclaimer and Terms of Use for full details.

References:

Barron, M.L. et al. (2017). The legalization of marijuana and fertility implications. Journal of Midwifery, Women’s Health and Nursery Practice, 1(1).

Carp, H.J. et al. (2012). The autoimmune bases of infertility and pregnancy loss. Journal Autoimmunity, 38(2-3): 266-274.

Dohle, G.R. et al. (2005). EAU Guidelines on Male Infertility. European Urology, 48: 703-711.

Environmental Working Group. (2005). Body Burden — The Pollution in Newborns. A benchmark investigation of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in umbilical cord blood.

Gaskins, A. et al. (2012). Physical activity and television watching in relation to semen quality in young men. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49(4).

Gaur, D. et al. (2010). Alcohol intake and cigarette smoking: Impact of two major lifestyle factors on male fertility. Indian Journal of Pathology and Microbiology, 53(1): 35-40. 

Heertum, K.V. & Rossi, B. (2017) Alcohol and fertility: how much is too much. Fertility research and practice, 3(10).

Kuohung, W. et al. Causes of female infertility. UpTo Date.

Kumar, N. & Singh, A. (2015). Trends of male factor infertility, an important cause of infertility: A review of literature. Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences, 8(4): 191–196.

Rozati, R. et al. (2002). Role of environmental estrogens in the deterioration of male factor fertility. Fertility Sterility.

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