Understanding The Impact Of Air Pollution On Fertility; Here's What You Can Do
Pollution is not solely an environmental concern; it constitutes a severe threat to human health, including fertility and healthy reproduction.
Air pollutants can reduce sperm motility
Environmental pollution affects your health in multiple ways, causing respiratory ailments, cardiovascular complications, cancer, gastrointestinal issues, neurological disorders, and susceptibility to chronic diseases. Pollution is not solely an environmental concern; it constitutes a severe threat to human health, including fertility and healthy reproduction. Certain pollutants, recognized as endocrine disruptors, interfere with the endocrine system, leading to hormonal imbalances and infertility. Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates contribute to reduced sperm quality, irregular menstrual cycles, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Here are some ways pollution affects fertility:
- Air pollution due to vehicle emissions and chemical manufacture is associated with adverse health effects (preterm birth, low birth weight, developmental anomalies) on infants.
- It also delays in vitro fertilization (IVF) success and increases the chances of a miscarriage.
- Air pollutants cause sperm DNA damage and also reduce sperm motility. Sperm reduction caused by air pollution compromises natural conception and increases ART complications.
- Higher pollution levels correlate with increased infant mortality, causing breathing difficulties and raising the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Exposure to water contaminated by pesticides threatens to disrupt thyroids functioning including ovulation and menses.
The effects of pollution on fertility are alarming, but people can take proactive measures to minimize these impacts.
For instance, adopting a healthy way of living can be conducive to fertility improvement. Eating balanced diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep can be good for overall well-being and may reduce some effects of pollution. Moreover, people should minimize exposure to environmental toxicants through air purification at homes, refraining from smoking and second-hand smoke, and taking organic or locally sourced foods to reduce pesticide intake.
It is important to be informed about the local pollution levels. On high pollution days, being careful and limiting outdoor activities, especially in areas with bad air quality can greatly reduce risks.
Another way forward is to venture into detoxification practices that may facilitate the elimination of toxins from the body. This could involve taking saunas, specific diets, and hydrating the body to support the body's cleansing systems.
Couples who are facing fertility challenges, must seek help from health professionals. Fertile living environment should be created. Eco-friendly household products, minimizing plastics and having good indoor ventilation to reduce indoor air pollution.
Managing stress is also important because high level of stress amplifies the effect of pollution on reproductive health. Some stress reducing practices like meditation, mindfulness and yoga, can help to promote an individual's emotional wellbeing.
However, individual approaches cannot deal with the overall problem of pollution; hence, it calls for collective efforts. Individuals planning a family or expectant mothers should minimize exposure to pollution. Collective efforts are imperative to ensure the next generation has a chance to create healthy families and communities.
(Dr Kshitiz Murdia is an IVF specialist, CEO & Co-Founder, Indira IVF)
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