Few medical conditions affect us more intimately than infertility and sexual dysfunction. Although many medical conditions cause uncomfortable symptoms and different types of functional impairment, infertility is a dagger to the very heart of our identity as women and men. For this reason, infertility statistics from sources such as the CDC and the Cleveland Clinic indicating that the condition now affects 10-20 percent of couples in the US, perhaps 50 percent more than decades ago, they are more than a matter of concern to maintain a stable population as a country; infertility has now become a contributing factor in millions’ feelings of guilt, worthlessness, stigmatization and despair.
To be clear, infertility, as discussed here, is not a voluntary choice not to have children. Unfortunately, many conventional sources of information describe the general decline in the number of children born over generations as “infertility,” often even described in favorable terms, without making the critical distinction between couples who voluntarily choose not to have children and couples who cannot conceive. children despite intent and sustained effort. The causes, consequences and remedies for infertility discussed here refer only to the latter group.
For the growing percentage of women and men affected by infertility, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Much government and scientific information, for example, focuses on factors that are largely out of our control, such as age, medical conditions, and “endocrine disruptors” such as chemicals and plastics in our environment , which can alter hormonal function. Without local solutions to these problems, helplessness is a common individual reaction. Perhaps worse, the most commonly approved treatments for infertility are prohibitively expensive for many and show limited success rates. From this daunting perspective, infertility is a rapidly growing problem caused by a series of external forces that may require years and many thousands of dollars to treat.
Parenting continues to be a source of joy and meaning for many adults.
Fortunately, there is an increasingly science-backed approach to treating and even reversing infertility that is completely under our personal control. This approach requires only a commitment to healthy lifestyle changes and a basic understanding of the relationship between health behaviors and hormonal function. In a previous post, I discussed the important role that a condition called insulin resistance has on depression and cognitive function. Insulin resistance is critical to our mental and physical health because every cell in our body responds to insulin. Therefore, when cells become resistant to insulin and cannot respond normally to insulin, they cannot perform the vital processes that allow us to think, feel and function optimally.
Insulin resistance and infertility
It turns out that sex hormones and sexual function are among the long list of vital activities affected by insulin resistance. The most common cause of infertility in women, for example, is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). And what is the most common cause of PCOS? Insulin resistance.
Resulting primarily from lifestyle factors such as lack of sleep, lack of exercise, chronic stress, and especially diets made up of high levels of sugars and refined carbohydrates, insulin resistance progressively compromises a woman’s ability to convert androgens (eg, testosterone) to estrogens. Without sufficient estrogen levels, your menstrual cycle cannot start, and with excessive androgen levels, you may experience male side effects such as hair loss and central adiposity (weight gain in the stomach area that is most strongly associated with cardiovascular disease) .
The same unhealthy lifestyle patterns lead to insulin resistance and hormonal changes behind infertility in men. As men become more resistant to insulin, for example, a vicious cycle ensues. Your insulin resistance contributes to excess body fat, and these fat cells secrete an enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone into a type of estrogen. The result is a pattern of reduced testosterone and feminizing side effects, sometimes referred to as “male PCOS” (1).
However, insulin resistance also causes male infertility through a second mechanism. Insulin also interacts with cells in our blood vessels called endothelial cells. Among other functions, endothelial cells help regulate the expansion of our arteries, thus also regulating blood flow. As endothelial cells become resistant to insulin, they lose their ability to dilate our arteries in times of need (such as during sexual activity). For a man, compromised endothelial function is a common cause of erectile dysfunction (note that drugs like Viagra improve sexual function in men by temporarily improving blood flow, but do not improve underlying insulin resistance. If insulin resistance itself is not treated, unfortunately, medications often become ineffective over time).
Although these biobehavioral connections may seem intimidating, they are overwhelmingly good news for people suffering from infertility. Although genetic factors and aging contribute to insulin resistance, insulin resistance is primarily caused by health behaviors. As a result, insulin resistance can be completely treated through behavioral changes.
Multiple recent clinical trials, for example, focused only on consuming low-carb diets (i.e. no other lifestyle changes required, etc.) demonstrated impressive rates of PCOS reversal, resumed menstrual cycles, and even new pregnancies in women who previously struggled with infertility and got better. testosterone, sperm quality and erectile function in men (2-5). Notably, the results of these studies were achieved with just 3 to 6 months of dietary programs that eliminated low-quality sources of nutrition, such as ultra-processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. And its results would likely have been even more impressive if combined with regular exercise, better sleep habits, and stress management techniques.
Infertility has gone from a rare problem to a widespread problem in the US in just a few decades. Although infertility has many causes derived from modernity, insulin resistance caused by poor lifestyle habits is perhaps the most common for both women and men. As science continues to clarify our understanding of the connection between health behaviors and hormonal function, we increasingly appreciate that our daily lifestyle choices have profound and pervasive effects on our physical and mental health.
5 DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001935
Fortunately, infertility can sometimes be reversed and women can go on to have babies. In fact, conventional medical therapies can reverse infertility in 85 to 90 percent of all cases.
Does masturbation cause low sperm count?
Frequent male masturbation probably won’t have much of an effect on your fertility. Some data shows that optimal semen quality occurs after two to three days without ejaculation. But other research suggests that men who have normal sperm quality maintain normal sperm motility and concentrations even with daily ejaculation.
Does stress kill sperm? Studies found that men who feel stressed are more likely to experience decreased testosterone, lower sperm count, abnormal sperm production, and decreased sperm motility, the function that allows for the sperm to move. And all this can negatively affect overall fertility.
How can I improve sperm count?
Here are 8 additional tips to increase fertility and sperm count/quality:
- Lead a healthy lifestyle. …
- Lose excess weight. …
- Limit your alcohol intake. …
- Get enough folate. …
- Get enough sleep. …
- Walnut appetizer. …
- Consider supplements. …
- Avoid eating too much soy.
What decreases a man’s sperm count?
Lifestyle. Activities such as excessive drug and alcohol use, as well as tobacco use or vaping, can also lower sperm count. Anabolic steroids, which are usually taken to increase muscle mass, almost always shrink the testicles and decrease sperm production. Marijuana and opioids also reduce sperm production.
Does folic acid increase fertility?
Studies suggest that folic acid may also increase fertility. Women who take multivitamins with folic acid are more likely to ovulate (produce eggs). Previous studies found that women trying to conceive had somewhat higher pregnancy rates when taking folic acid supplements.
Can folic acid improve fertility? “Folate supplementation before conception has been associated with a greater chance of getting pregnant, better success with fertility treatments, and a lower risk of neural tube defects in the baby,” says Low Dog. “However, more evidence is needed.” For pregnant women, the RDA for folic acid is 600 micrograms (mcg).
How long do you need to take folic acid before getting pregnant?
If you are planning to have a baby, it is important that you take folic acid tablets for two to three months before you conceive. This allows it to build up in your body to a level that gives your unborn baby the best protection against neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
How much folic acid should I take for fertility?
The CDC urges women to take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day for a month before trying to conceive. The CDC urges women to take a 400 microgram (mcg) dose of folic acid every day for a month before trying to conceive.
Should you take folic acid when trying to conceive?
It is recommended that you take a daily folic acid supplement when you are pregnant, or there is a chance you could become pregnant. You should take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement every day before you get pregnant and every day afterward until you are 12 weeks pregnant.
Why is my wife not getting pregnant?
You may have ovulation irregularities, structural problems in your reproductive system, low sperm count, or an underlying medical problem. Or you just haven’t tried hard enough. While infertility can have symptoms like irregular periods or severe menstrual cramps, most causes of infertility are silent.
What are the signs of not being able to have a baby in a woman? The main symptom of infertility is the inability to get pregnant. A menstrual cycle that is too long (35 days or more), too short (less than 21 days), irregular or absent can mean that you are not ovulating. There may be no other signs or symptoms.
How do I increase my chances of getting my wife pregnant?
In general, studies have shown that couples who have sex every day or every other day during the fertile window have the highest pregnancy rates. Also, doctors often recommend sticking to once a day during the fertile window.
Why is my wife having trouble getting pregnant?
Having trouble getting pregnant can be due to many things, including problems with ovulation, blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, premature menopause, fibroids, thyroid problems, and a condition called Turner syndrome. Depending on the cause, there are various treatment options.