The best way to take care of your sexual and reproductive health is to be more proactive, listen to your body, and not ignore even the most minor signs when something goes wrong because they can signal towards a more serious issue. In the recent times, leading an unhealthy lifestyle with poor choices has greatly affected the reproductive of people like engaging in unprotected sex with multiple partners that can increase the risk of contracting many types of sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually transmitted diseases come with a lot of risks, one of which is rendering a person infertile.
In the United States, as much as 1 in 8 couples face difficulties when it comes to getting pregnant. To avoid facing that issue, both men and women need to take their reproductive health seriously. Some healthy practices can be done to increase your chances of conceiving, maintaining a healthy pregnancy, and also avoiding succumbing to sexually transmitted diseases. Protect your sexual & reproductive health with the important considerations as mentioned below:
Getting immediately treated for Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Every year in the United States, 19 million people fall victim to sexually transmitted diseases; however, there are some things that you can do to lower the risk of contracting one. The most important step that you can take to avoid getting infected by sexually transmitted diseases is to be aware of what it is and how it is spread.
In case of any disease, it is very important to know how it works and be more aware of its risk factors to protect oneself from getting it in the first place. The same is the case with sexually transmitted diseases as well. If you feel like you have been exposed or are experiencing its symptoms, it is important to get tested to protect yourself and your partner.
Sometimes, some types of sexually transmitted diseases do not show any symptoms; in that case, again, getting tested is the only way to confirm if you actually have it. Regular testing and screening should be actively followed in order to protect oneself from getting infected.
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Smoking not only affects the overall health of a person, but it can also affect his or her reproductive health. In most cases, people that have infertility issues smoking have been seen as one of the most common contributing factors in that. Quitting smoking can bring about a lot of positive changes in your health, and it can also help you conceive.
In males, smoking affects the volume of the semen and lowers the sperm count. In females, smoking 10 to 20 cigarettes each day can increase the FSH or urinary follicle-stimulating hormone levels, which affects the normal functioning of the menstrual cycle and lowers the count of eggs as well. In some cases, it also causes infertility issues and can even cause the early onset of menopause.
For a healthy baby, mother, and a happier family, it is important to plan your pregnancies. In the United States, as much as 49 percent of pregnancies are not planned. Today there are so many options available when it comes to contraception, which can help you decide when to get pregnant.
For those that are looking for long term option, IUDs or intrauterine devices are a great option, these can last for many years, and when you decide that you want to get pregnant, you can remove these. Aside from IUDs, there are also other methods of contraception, like birth control pills and condoms. Birth control pills are not at all helpful in preventing oneself from getting infected by a sexually transmitted disease. In that case, using a condom would be an effective option for both the partners.
Being either underweight or overweight, both overly affect the chances of getting pregnant. In males being overweight, there is more body fat, which can cause the testicles to be exposed to extreme body heat and affect the sperm count. In females, being overweight or underweight affects the ovulation process, and it also increases the risk of miscarriages. Therefore to conceive easily and to give birth to a healthy baby, both males and females need to maintain healthy body weight.
Taking care of your health
In order to maintain your reproductive health, it is important to be more proactive and go for regular screenings and checkups. Some serious issues like cancers of the uterus, cervix, and prostate can be treated much effectively if they are caught early on. Therefore getting regularly tested even if everything feels normal is important because sometimes symptoms take very long to show up. It can be very difficult to treat the disease if it has progressed to a much severe stage.
Both before getting pregnant and during pregnancy, consumption of alcohol can be very dangerous. Those women that are trying to get pregnant drinking alcohol can be a big hurdle in conceiving, and if they do get pregnant, there is an increased chance of miscarriages and the baby being born with birth defects. In males, drinking can lower the volume of the sperm, and it also affects its motility. Those women that drink alcohol while they are pregnant increase the risk of passing the alcohol to the fetus, which can cause the baby to be born with serious birth defects.
Nurture your relationship
Another important thing that you can do to maintain a healthy reproductive system is to look for a supportive partner. They should not force you to do anything that might be detrimental to your health.
Those couples trying to conceive apart from refraining from drinking, smoking, and getting regular tests can also take the help of certain supplements that can increase their chances of getting pregnant. Women can take the prenatal DHA or omega-three fatty acids along with 800 mg of folic acid on a regular basis. Men can take multivitamins and Coenzyme Q10, which is a type of antioxidant to reduce the chances of the sperms getting damaged.
Foods to eat while trying to conceive
Apart from these, there are other steps that you can take to maintain your reproductive health and avoid infertility. The first step towards this is nutrition, healthy eating, and maintaining a healthy body weight can really help you protect your reproductive health and boost fertility. Here are some foods that boost fertility:
Whole grains and fiber-rich foods
People that mostly rely on heavily processed foods with lots of fats, sugar, and refined flours tend to put on weight more quickly. What’s more, the excess sugar in the body causes insulin resistance, which also affects the ovulation process, which is responsible for releasing one healthy egg every month. This can also affect the chances of getting pregnant; therefore, instead of consuming refined foods, it is important to opt for the ones that are made of whole grains and are also rich in dietary fiber.
Fruits and vegetables that are clean
Eating fruits and vegetables that are not properly cleaned and containing huge amounts of pesticides can negatively affect the body’s endocrine system. This affects the normal levels of hormones in the body, which in turn affects fertility. That is why fruits and vegetables before consumption should be thoroughly cleaned. You can also opt for fruits and vegetables that are organically grown and devoid of any pesticides.
Omega 3 fatty acids are very helpful in reducing inflammation in the body, and they also improve the quality of the egg. These omega 3 fatty acids are found in Brussels, seafood, flax seeds, chia seeds, nuts, etc. A diet rich in mono-saturated fats and full-fat dairy products can help avoid the ovulation process from malfunctioning, and it can also reduce the risk of infertility.
Protein is an important part of our diet, without which we can face many health issues. Most people rely on animal-based foods for protein like red meat and poultry; these contain more omega-six fatty acids, which are notorious for increasing blood pressure, fluid retention, and blood clotting. Instead of these opting for plant-based protein sources is a better idea. These include quinoa, lentils, soy products like tofu, soy milk, soya bean, etc. These are very helpful in decreasing the risk of infertility and also helps with ovulatory issues.
Foods to not eat while trying to conceive
Processed foods like fast foods and processed meat products contain trans fats, harmful chemicals, and many empty calories. These can affect fertility and cause disturbances in ovulation as well. Apart from consuming such foods, one should also avoid reheating of food in containers made of plastic as you can unknowingly ingest harmful substances like BPA, solvents, and phthalates, which can cause the endocrine system to malfunction and cause infertility issues.
Caffeine works as a stimulant, and it increases the heart rate and blood pressure, which can be dangerous for both the mother and her unborn baby. Women that consume caffeinated drinks while being pregnant are at an increased risk of suffering from miscarriages, stillbirths, and death of the fetus in the womb itself. Even those women that are not pregnant can have difficulties with getting pregnant if they consume a lot of caffeine per day, which is 500 mg and more.
In order to maintain the health of your reproductive organs, it is important to be proactive and go for regular screenings even if you are not suffering from any issues. Also, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and consume organic and plant-based foods more regularly.
- Pointers on caring about reproductive health: Reference taken from womenshealth.gov
- Addressing the major considerations: Reference taken from unfpa .org