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General Risk Factors

Age

Age is the strongest predictor of female fertility. After about age 32, a woman's fertility potential declines. A woman does not renew her oocytes (eggs). Not only is the number of eggs decreased but also their quality in terms of their fertilizing ability. There is also a 50% increase in the rate of abortions. There is no one special point when fertility declines - it's a gradual transition. Although men do not have such a cut off age, fertility in men declines too in the form of poor sperm parameters.

Stress Research has shown that women undergoing treatment for Infertility have a similar, and often higher, level of stress than women dealing with say cancer and heart disease. This can change hormone levels and cause irregular ovulation. In men too this may interfere with certain hormones needed to produce sperm.

Vitamin Deficiency

Deficiencies in nutrients such as vitamin C, selenium, zinc and folate may contribute to infertility.

Body Mass

Extremes in body mass - either too high (body mass index, or BMI, of greater than 25.0) or too low (BMI of lower than 20.0) - may affect ovulation and increase the risk of infertility as well as cause abnormal sperm counts in men.

Testicular Exposure to Overheating

Frequent use of saunas or hot tubs can elevate the core body temperature. This may impair the sperm production and lower the sperm count.

Substance Abuse

Cocaine or heavy marijuana use may temporarily reduce the number and quality of your sperm.

Tobacco Smoking

Men who smoke may have a lower sperm count than do those who don't smoke. Women who smoke tobacco may reduce their chances of becoming pregnant and the possible benefit of fertility treatment. Miscarriages are more frequent in women who smoke.

Cellular Phone Usage

Some reports even suggest that men who keep cell phones in their trouser pockets or attached to their belts have upto a 30% reduction in semen count.

Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol or drug dependency can be associated with general ill health and reduced fertility. The use of certain drugs also can contribute to infertility. Anabolic steroids, for example, which are taken to stimulate muscle strength and growth, can cause the testicles to shrink and sperm production to decrease. There's no certain level of safe alcohol use during conception or pregnancy.

Cancer and its treatment

Both radiation and chemotherapy treatment for cancer can impair sperm production, sometimes severely. The closer radiation treatment is to the testicles, the higher the risk of infertility. Removal of one or both testicles due to cancer also may affect male fertility. You may want to consider freezing (cryopreserving) your sperm before cancer treatment to ensure future fertility.

Other Medical Conditions

A severe injury or major surgery can affect male fertility. Certain diseases or conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, HIV/AIDS, Cushing's syndrome, anemia, heart attack, and liver or kidney failure, may be associated with infertility.

11th December, 2011
The Telegraph, Kolkata
Modern-day technology has allowed us to create an environment outside the body which is almost as good as the environment inside the body.
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Dear Dr. Rajeev Agarwal,
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