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Why are women taking longer to conceive?

Why are women taking longer to conceive?
Highlights

Once upon a time, getting pregnant was a straightforward affair. A couple eager to start a family would try...

Once upon a time, getting pregnant was a straightforward affair. A couple eager to start a family would try and conceive in a jiffy and live happily ever after. But unfortunately, things have changed. Now, conceiving is all about calculating, tracking and timing.

Recent years have seen fertility rates on a steady downward trend, not just in India but across the world. According to the research conducted by the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, infertility affects 10-14 per cent of the population, which approximately rounds up to 30 million people of both genders. The numbers go even higher in urban areas, where one in six couples have issues conceiving. So, the big question is - what has caused things to change so drastically?

Evolving lifestyles, declining fertility

The rapid evolution of lifestyle over the past few decades has introduced a host of issues which are detrimental to overall health. Infertility being one of them. Poor lifestyle choices have increasingly affected couples' chances of conceiving.

Unhealthy dietary habits and a resultant upswing in obesity, increasingly sedentary work lives combined with erratic work hours, sleep deprivation, and rise in stress have a profound impact on the fertility levels in both men and women.

What's more, with more women entering the workforce, planned delays in marriage and parenthood are inevitable, thereby reducing the possibility of successful pregnancies and increasing the likelihood of complications / miscarriages. Changing lifestyles have also disrupted natural fertility cycles and caused hormonal imbalances like Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), affecting one in five women of reproductive age.

Research has shown that hormonal imbalances can further be worsened by prolonged exposure to high levels of physical and psychological stress, a frequent occurrence in today's highly competitive environment. Women suffering from sleep disorders such as chronic insomnia and apnea are also more likely to suffer from infertility, due to the heightened likelihood of irregular or missed periods.

All in all, lifestyle disorders have had such a massive impact on women's menstrual cycles that only around 15 per cent report a standard 28-day cycle. Irregular periods have also caused many women to become anovulatory, a condition in which menstruation isn't followed by the release of an egg. This combined with the fact that you can only get pregnant during fertile days (which is a maximum of six days in every cycle), tracking exact ovulation days isn't a piece of cake.

Despite these myriad shifts in lifestyle, couples are still calculating and predicting ovulation dates manually, no wonder pregnancy rates are drastically lower!

A scientific approach to pregnancy

With more and more couples facing issues in conceiving, advancements in the field of fertility tech are nothing less than a boon. While visiting fertility clinics are a sure shot way of identifying the right days to get pregnant, innovative smartphone connected fertility monitors and apps, have now become an imperative step for couples.

These fertility monitors allow women to identify ovulation in a menstrual cycle, from their home. Using fertility monitors, women can now keep track of their vital fertility hormone levels (Estrogen and Luteinizing Hormones), understand their ovulation pattern and detect their most fertile days, irrespective of whether their cycles are regular or irregular. The convenience of at-home testing, lab grade accuracy and unlimited support of clinical specialists makes fertility monitors a truly a smart way to get pregnant faster.

(The writer is an Obstetrician and Gynecologist and an Infertility Specialist in Hyderabad)

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