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Reproductive issues in men need equal focus. A recent study published in a reputed journal showed that there’s more than 50 percent decline in sperm counts worldwide, including India, over the last four decades. This is an alarming finding that indicates the harm inflicted and perpetrated by man upon the environment by his modern lifestyle and his guise of wanting to achieve more. Know how to boost male fertility or reproductive health.
Well, reproductive health is an important indicator of the overall health and well-being of a person. Of this, sperm count is a reliable marker. Low sperm counts are associated with chronic disease and even a reduced lifespan.
So, what are the factors affecting the reproductive health in men and what can be done to achieve optimal well-being?
Over the last few decades, there is increasing evidence that excessive use of plastics, environmental pollutants, carbon emissions and global warming are responsible individually and cumulatively, for several health conditions. These include cancers, chronic diseases and reduced fertility. We have seen all the pollution indices go up to alarming levels. This has invariably affected adversely, the overall health of population in general and reproductive health in particular. Reducing plastic use and other pollutants like artificial sweeteners, flavouring agents and food preservatives, can improve sperm counts and quality significantly. Although global warming can’t be stopped at individual levels, cumulatively we can make an attempt to reduce it.
Digital well-being is another term that’s becoming popular. It implies reduced exposure to electronic gadgets like mobiles, tablets, laptops, gaming devices, etc. They should not be kept too close to the body. A recent study suggested that Wi-Fi signals from cellphones kept in pant pockets adversely affected sperm motility and quality significantly. Normally, testes in the scrotal sac are maintained at couple of degrees below the normal body temperature, which is required for optimal sperm production. Electronic gadgets close to the body increase the scrotal temperature and impair sperm production and quality.
A lot of couples put their career and profession ahead of their personal lives and postpone conception till their late 30s. It is a well-established fact now, that with advancing age, the sperm quality declines and pregnancy becomes more difficult. Not many men are aware of this fact. It is time that men realise this fact and give equal importance to their family lives. The optimal age for conception among both men and women is below 30 years and it can be extended up to 35 years. By this age, it is preferable to complete their families. Beyond this age, reproductive health declines and couples will find it difficult not only to conceive, but also to maintain pregnancy, in addition to increased risk of fetal malformations.
Smoking, regular alcohol consumption, recreational drugs and prolonged use of anabolic steroids are known to reduce sperm production severely, thereby affecting male fertility. The testicular tissue is very sensitive to circulating toxins and continuous exposure to these toxins can permanently damage the sperm production mechanisms. In addition, they also cause harmful mutations, leading to severe fetal malformations and birth defects. Without a second thought, all these toxic agents need to be stopped immediately, avoided completely and permanently to improve male fertility.
Lifestyle disorders such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity are on the rise in young men, and more rapidly after the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has brought about major changes like stress of working from home, lack of physical activity, binge eating of junk foods and confinement in their homes, causing interpersonal conflicts and mental health issues, erectile dysfunction and male fertility problems. Lack of sleep and abnormal sleep patterns compound these effects.
Stress reduction can be achieved by improving working atmosphere, regular meditation, improving inter-personal relationships, regular exercise, good eating and sleeping habits.
Men, as well as women, should curb their abnormal lifestyles and improve activity levels to increase fertility.
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