The Modern Crisis: How Alcohol, Tobacco and Caffeine Effect Fertility
Remember the movie “Children of Men” where the whole world was threatened by a population which was basically rendered infertile? Well, that may have been a fictionalized tale, but rate at which infertility is currently threatening the population is alarming.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 1 out of every 8 couple has problems conceiving.
While one third of the cause of being unable to have children is contributed to female infertility and another one third to male infertility, the rest of it is chalked up to a number of issues like lifestyle and so on.
Which brings us to an essential question, does smoking, drinking and taking coffee affect our fertility? Is that what is causing such an alarming rate of infertility in modern couples?
One of the most notable health problems associated with smoking is cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks. What most people do not know is that smoking can severely lower a person’s fertility.
A cigarette typically contains chemicals and complex compounds like nicotine, carbon monoxide and so on.
What there chemicals do is that they permanently alter the genetic makeup of the male sperm, which means that the male sperm are disfigured or their mobility, which is the speed at which they move, is severely affected and as a result of this, they cannot fuse with the egg properly to cause a successful fertilization.
In the case of women, the eggs when exposed to the chemicals from a cigarette, die or are permanently damaged. As we know, eggs once damaged, cannot regenerate and lose their fertility.
As a result of this, both men and women who smoke, have more problems conceiving than the individual who do not smoke.
The more cigarettes you smoke and the longer you smoke during your lifetime, the more likely you are to be rendered infertile.
Smoking can also cause erectile dysfunction in men as well as a severe hormonal imbalance in people of either sex, which can, again in turn, cause infertility.
However, this is not just limited to active smokers. People who are exposed to secondhand smoking are just as likely to suffer from infertility issues as the ones who smoke directly.
Not just that, but smoking or being exposed to smoke can also cause miscarriage or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as it can severely alter the genetic makeup of a fetus.
It has been seen that women who have smoked during the tenure of their pregnancies have had a higher risk of having babies with genetic deformities like physical restrictions of weight because their eggs were genetically altered.
Although the effects of alcohol and the extent of those effects on pregnant women is unclear, but scientists suggests that there is a clear link between the two, and perhaps that is the reason why pregnant women are advised not to drink alcohol in any form.
Yes, whole it may be true that light alcohol consumption can have positive health effects like a healthy heart and reduced risks of a heart attack, too much of it can be severely bad for your fertility.
It has been seen that people who consume more than five alcoholic beverages per week have almost half the chances of conceiving when compared to the ones who do not drink so regularly.
The science behind this is that alcohol alters the functioning and the stimulation of the pituitary gland, which is basically responsible for controlling the hormonal balance of the human body.
When a healthy individual drinks too much alcohol, it affects the pituitary gland as well as the adrenal gland which causes the imbalance of hormones, including female and male hormones like estrogen and testosterone respectively and so on.
As a result of this, in females, the eggs or the ova may be permanently damaged, while in males, this can cause a severe disfiguration of the shape and the size of the sperm, it can lower the sperm count as well as decrease the sperm motility which means that the sperm will not be able to fuse properly with the egg.
At the same time, when the human system is flooded with excess amounts of alcohol, it can have problems absorbing and using various minerals and vitamins, which can weaken the immune system and well as the body’s ability to conceive.
Excess alcohol in men can also decrease their libido as well as cause permanent impotence, according to leading experts.
It also lowers the levels of zinc as well as vitamin C in the male blood system, which is one of the leading causes of infertility as it lowers the sperm count and causes early damaging of the sperm.
Although there are no hard facts to prove that excess caffeine consumption can lower a person’s ability to conceive, some studies suggest that there exists a link between the two.
Caffeine consumption, however, is not just limited to coffee, but also to tea, energy drinks and soft drinks.
In women, experts suggest that caffeine fertility in three major ways.
First, it can affect the hormonal balance of the body. Second, it can cause problems with ovulation, and third, it affects the way the muscles in the fallopian tubes move, which means that the egg or the releases ova does not reach the uterus successfully in time to be fertilized.
However, for men, there are no scientific evidences to suggest that caffeine consumption can cause infertility.
In fact, if anything, it has been suggested that an optimum and balanced amount of caffeine consumption can even help with fertility issues in men.
Although infertility can be treated in a number of ways, especially today in a world where we have a whole bunch of scientifically advanced options like In Vitro Fertilization, Artificial Insemination, Test Tube Babies, Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection and so on, the problem is that infertility can be difficult to treat.
People who are plagued by infertility due to smoking, drinking or taking caffeine have to undergo further medical procedures to have children as compares to the ones who do not drink or smoke.