Nine Months: How modern lifestyles could be lowering couples' chances of conceiving

'Will I be able to father a child?' 'Would I make a good mother?' These are just some of the questions on pregnancy and parenthood that probably give you and your partner sleepless nights. To add to one's anxiety, medical findings suggest a dangerous escalation in the rates of infertility by 20-30 percent over the past five years.

Does one then pay heed to old wives’ tales or get expert-backed explanations on the pregnancy process? We recommend the latter, and to make the process simpler, you could follow Firstpost's show Nine Months — a visual how-to survival guide that brings experience, knowledge and perspective to mothers so they can follow a reliable and singular narrative on pregnancy and parenting.

No deceiving ideas or magical herbs, here's the plain truth you need to know. In this first episode of 9 Months, discover how a modern lifestyle may be lowering your chances of conceiving.

Understanding Infertility

Finding out that your chances of having a baby have come down to a disappointing nil could be downright heart-breaking. But before blaming yourself, here’s a logical explanation to put your doubts to rest. Consider that every community has an infertility rate of 15 percent. There are certain women in this group who would be identified as having fertility concerns if they’re unable to conceive within a year, without using contraception. In some cases, either of the partners could be the cause, while in others, both the husband and the wife may have their share of fertility issues. And interestingly, there could be a rare 7-8 percent whose inability to conceive is shrouded in mystery, with doctors unable to detect the cause for infertility.

The Ticking Biological Clock

Is age being a cause for infertility just a myth? After all, you may have heard about a woman making it to the headlines for being a mother at 66. This may have been a rare instance, but research does associate age with reduced chances of conception. Why so? As women age, so does the quality and quantity of eggs. Women are born with a certain number of eggs. However, with every cycle, they lose not one egg but 25 eggs.

With the passage of time, the fresher eggs are released, thus leaving behind the poor-quality ones. This is an even more pressing concern amongst Indian women as they attain menopause around the age of 48 years, much earlier than their Caucasian counterparts, who do so generally around 53 years. This is all the more reason to pay heed to medical advice that recommends conceiving between 20 to 30 years of age.

Modernisation — Not So Good For Fertility?

Infertility is often aggravated and much more pronounced when modern elements take a toll, namely toxic pollutants and unhealthy dietary habits. A more immediate cause is the lack of time to engage in sexual activity owing to work commitments and the resulting fatigue. Which is why, doctors monitoring patients often recommend partners have intercourse when a woman is ovulating.

Diet Woes

The ill-effects of processed food, tastemakers, and fast food have been out in the open for long. It makes you obese. It spikes blood sugar. But few know that it could actually cause infertility. Your body is unable to combat the onslaught of chemicals and artificial ingredients, which in turn lowers your chances of conceiving. Often, obesity due to unhealthy eating and a sedentary lifestyle is a cause for infertility as it disrupts the hormonal balance in the body. Switching to a healthier diet and shedding at least 5-10 percent of body weight could restore the equilibrium.


Just like your diet, your body is drastically affected by stress. It’s your ovulation that often takes a beating during increased periods of stress when the hormone prolactin is secreted and released into the blood stream. There are cases when patients receive treatment, yet, their bodies don’t respond to it. This is where stress is the missing block in the puzzle. Doctors, therefore, advice couples to go on vacations, all with the intention of calming their nerves and normalising stress levels.

Pregnancy is indeed a miracle and with a little human intervention, it could be a possibility for those who think it’s impossible. Here are expert-backed guidelines on increasing your chances of conceiving:

1. Avoid lubricants that have spermicidal properties
2. Don’t succumb to patriarchy; checking the male’s sperm count is equally important
3. Keep stress at bay
4. Make healthy lifestyle choices
5. Conceive before you cross 30

Watch this episode of Nine Months, in which host Meghna Pant talks to Dr Duru Shah and Dr Ratna about how modern lifestyles affect intimacy between couples and how lifestyle and dietary changes impact conception and family planning. Get answers to whether ticking away of the biological clock is for real, what couples can to do to conceive, problems leading to infertility and solutions for the same.

Updated Date: Oct 05, 2017 15:09 PM

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