Discussing Reproductive Health 

Published 12:05 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2023

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Rarely discussed is the topic of reproductive health unless you or a loved one find it challenging to get pregnant. And if you’re in the struggle, you’re not alone. Infertility affects up to 15% of couples in America. Since National Infertility Week is the last week of April, I want to highlight this important topic. 


Every step in the reproductive process must happen in a specific order for a pregnancy to occur. The man must make healthy sperm, and the woman must make healthy eggs. The woman’s fallopian tubes must be open for the sperm to access the egg. The sperm must have the strength to fertilize the egg, the conditions in the uterus must promote the implantation of the fertilized egg, and the embryo must be healthy.

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If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, you may want to seek fertility care. If you are a woman, consider seeking reproductive therapy sooner if you have known fertility issues, are over forty, or have painful, inconsistent, or missed periods. In addition, if you have endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease, you’ve had multiple miscarriages, or you have received treatment for cancer, you may want to talk to your doctor about reproductive therapy.


Men should seek fertility care if they have a low sperm count or other problems with sperm, have testicular or prostate problems, or have a family history of infertility issues.


Female infertility issues include pelvic inflammatory disease (that causes blockages to the fallopian tube), endometriosis, and ovulation disorders (that affect the release of eggs from the ovaries).


What’s more, uterine or cervical abnormalities, early menopause, pelvic adhesions, and cancer or cancer treatment (specifically reproductive cancers) are known to impair female fertility.


Male reproductive issues include abnormal sperm function or production and sperm delivery. Environmental factors, including pesticide exposure, anabolic steroids, and antibiotics, can contribute to low sperm count. In addition, frequent usage of hot tubs can raise body temperature and affect sperm production.




Age– Fertility in women rapidly declines after thirty-seven years of age. Men over the age of forty are known to be less fertile than younger men.


Substance use– Tobacco and marijuana use by either partner can reduce the likelihood of pregnancy. In women, fertility treatments become less effective, and miscarriages become more frequent. In men, smoking increases the risk of erectile dysfunction and a low sperm count.


Alcohol use– There is no safe level of alcohol consumption during conception or pregnancy. And in men, heavy alcohol use has been shown to decrease sperm count and motility.


Obesity– An inactive lifestyle and being overweight can increase women’s infertility risk. For men, obesity can affect sperm count.


Being underweight in women creates fertility problems: eating disorders and those who follow a very low-calorie or restrictive diet risk reproductive disorders.


Exercise issues– A lack of exercise contributes to obesity, which increases the risk of infertility. Less often, ovulation problems may be associated with frequent strenuous, intense exercise in women who are not overweight.




Most couples have no idea they’re infertile until they decide to start a family, and Pregnancy doesn’t happen. Unfortunately, not all infertility is preventable. But fortunately, we live in a time where momentous advances now provide many safe and effective therapies that significantly improve your chances of getting pregnant. 


Barring any anatomical and genetic issues, control what you can affect—diet, exercise, environment, and substance use. Don’t stress. Reducing stress is essential as it can affect sexual function and hormone production necessary for fertility. Even moderate physical activity can help reduce stress and increase levels of antioxidant enzymes, which help protect sperm. Increasing regular intercourse from five days before ovulation to one day after increases opportunities for pregnancy. Ovulation occurs in the middle of the cycle — for most women with menstrual cycles about 28 days apart. And if this doesn’t work, have your provider refer you to a reputable fertility clinic.


Let me leave you with this thought by Aysha Taryam, “Pregnancy is a process that teaches you patience, selflessness, and endurance.”