Wait, what? Plastic use and pollution may affect your fertility

Environmental factors like plastic usage, air pollution and mining can hamper your fertility. Read on to know how.
Save the girl child
We need to save the girl child. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Nandita Palshetkar Published: 20 Jun 2022, 20:30 pm IST
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Lifestyle factors—diet, sleep, geographical location, and other behaviors- significantly impact health and disease. Fertility is no different. The progressions in the physical, mental, and toxic environmental factors have affected fertility worldwide.

What are certain factors that affect fertility?

Fertility is affected by various lifestyle factors in both men and women. Nutrition, weight, and exercise; physical and psychological stress; environmental and occupational exposures; substance and drug use and abuse are just a few examples. One of the most critical aspects of female fertility cycles is the endocrine system, and environmental factors like pollution cause fluctuation in the design and these factors can manifest themselves in conditions such as PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease).

Is environmental pollution a threat to your fertility?

There are multiple factors due to which the environment is heavily contaminated; the oceans have plastic islands floating, and tons of untreated waste get discharged into them. This, in turn, makes the consumption of seafood dangerous as one could ingest these harmful chemicals and end up affecting the fertility of the person. The plastic on land also affects the fertility system, contaminating heavy metals in the soil and water table pollution due to an unregularized garbage disposal system. The effects are not yet highly profound, but it is slowly getting out of hand.

air pollution and dementia
Another reason for dampened fertility can be air and water pollution! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The environmental toxins and exposure to heavy metals like mercury and lead increase the chances of a miscarriage. These are the same factors which also play a role in lung cancer, and they can also get triggered by modulating the genetics and affect the load much lower. Thermal stress is also an increasingly significant factor that disrupts the fertility cycle as the heat waves increase the stress on the ovaries. It is especially harmful to women exposed to the sun for substantial chunks due to their jobs.

Is extreme plastic use responsible for infertility?

Plastic has become an essential part of the world, but microplastics are incredibly harmful as endocrine disruptors. Microplastics contain Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalate, elements that upset the hormonal system. The hormones entirely control fertility; if these are dysregulated, so is fertility. Everyone should actively avoid microplastics, independent plastic serve ware or a plastic water bottle. Glass is the next best alternative.

pregnancy prevention
Microplastics may shorten your chances of pregnancy. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

What can be done to keep our fertility levels up?

One must regulate their sleep cycle. Sleep is an essential contributing factor in the fertility aspect as, during sleep, the body goes through the regeneration of the many cells and the rhythm of the hormone changes. In addition, sleep produces dark melatonin, which can improve the whole-body system.

Despite the ambiguity, there are things one can do to protect one’s fertility. Exercise regularly, avoid preserved food, eat a balanced diet, avoid tobacco and alcohol, discuss medication side effects with your doctor, and avoid substances known as endocrine disruptors to stay in overall good health.

If problems persist, we recommend scheduling a visit with a fertility specialist. A fertility specialist can help you assess whether there is a problem with fertility through a consultation and fertility exam and the best course of action for achieving conception.

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About the Author

Dr.Nandita Palshetkar is an Obstetrician and Gynecologist. She is the director of Bloom IVF India and President of IVF Society of India (ISAR). She comes with over three decades of experience, and has helped more than 30,000 couples to become parents. Her IVF success rate overaes around 45%-50% for women under 35. She has also co-founded Babies & Us Fertility Centre, an IVF centres in Mumbai. ...Read More

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