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Why is it Increasingly Difficult For Women to Get Pregnant These Days?

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by Lionel (subscribe)
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Published November 13th 2012
Photo by flequi of Flickr

Seems getting pregnant is a hot topic these days as I found recently during a causal conversation with friends. Infertility seems to be a growing problem for many women (and men) and more are seeking reproductive treatment and medical procedures like In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to help conceive. And age is no longer an advantage with more young women being affected.

Photo by janineomg of Flickr

Infertility affects more young women than people realize. According to statistics, approximately one-in-10 women between the prime childbearing ages of 20 to 35 in the US is infertile. In Europe, infertility is set to double by 2015 according to UK fertility expert, Professor Bill Ledger, from Sheffield University. One in seven couples already have trouble conceiving naturally. Similarly one in six couples struggle with infertility in Australia.

The increasing rate of infertility in the world's most developed countries must surely be a sign of underlying health problems as a healthy body should be a fertile one too. Here are 5 reasons why we felt it was increasing difficult for women to get pregnant these days:

1) Stress

Stress seems to be a constant in our modern lives, limiting sleep to less than seven hours a night, irregular exercise and tendency towards alcohol and other stimulants, all of which work together to increase infertility.
Photo by CollegeDegrees360 of Flickr

2) So-called Healthy Lifestyle

In the age of healthy diets, many women are actually suffering from nutrient deficiencies. Dieticians report that many women lack iodine and Vitamin D. Vitamin D or the "sunshine vitamin" prevents hormone disorders. In Australia, 80% of Aussies are low in selenium. This combined with the low Vitamin D, low iodine, low progesterone and stress creates a profound fertility problem. In addition, fertility is declining as more and more women choose convenient food which are usually highly processed and low in nutrients instead of natural, home cooked meals.

3) Low Progesterone

Also known as the pregnancy hormone, progesterone is important in promoting fertility. It performs a balancing role with oestrogen to prepare the lining of the uterus for the fertilised egg, to maintain the pregnancy and boost the immune system. Unfortunately, our modern times characterised by a high carbohydrate diet, excess body weight, nutrient deficiencies and stress create a fall in progesterone levels.

4) Overweight

Just being overweight can put the follicle stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone (FSHLH) out of balance leading to improper ovulation and progesterone deficiency. This in turn can affect the uterus and shut off the pituitary gland. Being overweight also encourages insulin resistance which introduces the added risk of polycystic ovarian syndrome. This drastically affects regular ovulation needed for reproduction. Even without this syndrome, young obese women usually take longer to conceive and experience lower IVF success rates than slim women.

5) Chemical-filled Environment

Exposure to chemicals in the environment is one of the greatest challenges to fertility with endocrine disruptors being the main culprit. 80,000 man-made synthetic chemicals have been released into the environment in the past 60 years. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals like phthalates or PCBs found everywhere from plastic bottles and cleaning products to make up and pesticides. They are in the plastics used with food and liquid, particularly when food is heated; the white resin lining in canned foods; the air freshener; and cosmetics and personal care products. They are impossible to escape so it's all about minimising your exposure.
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difficulties getting pregnant can have many reasons- loose some weight and eliminate use of parabens in bathroom and cosmetics products. See a herbalist or a chinese medicine specialist and they will get you pregnant before you know it! by wise owl
by aunty (score: 1|24) 3063 days ago
interesting choice of topic and well-written as always!
by Joy (score: 3|1930) 3094 days ago
I think it's about age. Women today trying to have their first child at ages that only 100 years ago they had the last one. Evolution is about million of years.
by ozmar (score: 0|6) 3085 days ago
If you google GM + infertility you will find that farm animals or lab animals fed GM foods become sick, sterile and have a high mortality rate of offspring. Avoid this stuff where you can - not easy when the WA Gov't does deals with GM companies who want to grow GM wheat, which will then become part of our daily bread.....
by Topca (score: 0|6) 3081 days ago
I have many friends who suffer with or have struggled with this problem. It really is creepy how the cases of infertility and cancer have increased over the years. My money's on the plastics, chemicals, and the 'fillers' being thrown into our foods. Thanks for the article!
by Karen the Wordier (score: 2|126) 3060 days ago
Interesting article. With the prevalance of cancer and other diseases as well I think in 50-100 years' time we'll find out that a lot of what's in everyday foods is possibly the cause. We would not have a clue what's in our food because mfg aren't telling us. Our ancestors didn't have cancer in the rates we do. With all the scientists trying to work it out, why can't they find out what causes it?
by caz13 (score: 2|159) 3062 days ago
Well done
by Monica (score: 2|104) 3094 days ago
It's not just people it's happening to, it's animals as well. I think number five is the most valid reason. 1.Women in history have often lived under stress yet had less issues with fertility. 2. 3. and 4. The starving women of the world with many deficiencies still seem to have better fertility despite this. While obesity may have an impact weight is not a new issue and large people in the past had children fine.
Yet plastic, trickling into our lives from 1957, has from the 70's escalated in use exponentially. We were warned back then but people didn't listen. The 60's brought the first plastic bottles and plastic nappies (using women's lib, the appealing idea of freedom to sell them), so while not common due to expense and inconveniences some people have had a toxic build up start from then. These toxins pass on and build up further. The 80's was the era things really took off for convenience, especially in the market of disposable sanitary napkins. Many of this age grew up not knowing there were alternatives out there. Their mother's had raced for the disposable freedom in their era and were generally all for it. They were given the impression by advertising that the only substitute to disposable plastic would be a smelly rag, hence the term. Very few used alternatives so by this stage most women had toxins from these products leaching directly to their important areas and still do. Also, apart from the chemicals leaching from disposable diapers directly on to baby skin like a nicotine patch, studies have shown that the extra heat trapped within this type of nappy (especially when not changed as frequently) as opposed to breathable old styles means the development of the boys fertility is put at risk. Testicles are located outside the body as fertility in men is temperature sensitive, especially in babies and teen development.
People got used to having plastic and invented so many more things to make with it all to make our "modern" lives easier. The late 70's and 80's were also full of advertising encouraging people "throw it in the bin" which set in the "I don't have to deal with it" idea which has contributed to making modern generations lazy. Big business ensures it gets repeat sales, it doesn't care about you or the environment. Businesses continue to create new disposable products containing yet more chemicals and through advertising make us believe we need them so the company can get repeat sales. Like deodorants - make the people think they stink without them and they will continue to buy them, even if they wash over-well. Forgotten is the regular shower, or the quick powder puff of bi-carb if having to skip a wash.
During the 90's and early 2000's bottles started changing to so called "safe" plastic. By taking out one or two of the 30+ known toxins that leach out of them they continued to make a market for themselves by claiming to use safe plastic. There is no safe plastic. While a step forward it is far from a solution.
We need to remove plastic in the very least away from our food source. While it is impossible to deal with what is already there in it's immensity, production must stop where it is not of serious benefit.
Lies must be exposed. Most plastic has a triangle with a number within embossed on it. People believe this means it can be recycled but they are deceived. It is deception surrounding a number which is there to define what type of plastic it is so waste disposal can try to keep usable forms number's 1 and 2 away from the others and know which are the most toxic which if mixed sends the whole batch to landfill. Only 1 and 2 can be recycled, and less than 4% is. Much goes into the ocean and toxins come back to us in the food chain. Plastic can take up to 1000 years to disintegrate, and does not degrade. It just becomes smaller particles. People are led to believe their plastic bottle is recycled into new bottle. Sadly this can't be done. It can only be turned into inferior product such as plastic fleece. So we are wearing the plastic which poisons us too. How much polyester etc do you wear?
The plastic is the biggest health problem for us all. Refuse what you can. Then reduce, reuse, recycle... You know the drill. For our health
by NutItOut (score: 0|8) 3083 days ago
Very interesting and knowledgeable article as always by Lionel and always look forward to reading his down to earth and helpful column. I also worry about what is in our washing detergent. Please stop using all the sprays, chemicals and pesticides in your homes to kill all the insects that are needed to keep our system natural and healthy, aerate our soil, and also pollinate our food crops. I use the Spider & Insect Vac and also the Spider and Bug Katcha, the Copper Slug and Snail Tape to put on pots and planters, and letter boxes to stop mail being eaten, also around pets food bowls to stop pets from getting Lung Worm from slugs and snails, no harmful and toxic sprays and pesticides. I also use Fix a Drawer to repair broken drawers, instead of throwing out good pieces of furniture. Be eco-friendly and green and visit
by selec (score: 1|16) 3032 days ago
I think all of your points are extremely valid. I would especially like to emphasise the insulance resistance. This is something not really easily understood by many doctors, save those who have studied it especially, It leads to polycystic disorder . And although it makes it very hard to be slim there are many slim people coping with it. Just dont discount it if you are having problems conceiving. it is also genetic. You need a doctor who doesnt just tell you to watch your diet, but also gives you medication. a Sydney doctor Dr Kidson has some public available papers on it. and is willing to talk to any doctor who bothers to phone him. He told me this himself. ( my endocinologist no relation to me )

good luck to all who wish to concieve and keep hoping and doing what is possible and dont leave it too late. mid thirties is if you have any other option too late to start.
by lcorn (score: 0|8) 3042 days ago

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