This past year over 175,000 women received IVF treatments in the United States. That’s seven times more than the number of fertility treatments done in 1988. More than 1 in 8 couples have difficulty getting pregnant. Approximately 90% of infertility cases are treated with drug therapy or surgical procedures and 11% of women have received some form of reproductive treatment.
The statistics show that millennials (those born between 1981 & 1997) have struggled with infertility more than any other generation. As I’ve continued to dive into my studies the question continues to come up, why my generation? How has our culture changed over the past 50 years that it’s dramatically impacting women’s and men’s ability to reproduce? This post is going to cover the top 4 reasons why I believe millennials are struggling with infertility.
1. We’re Overweight: Obesity has been steadily increasing since the baby boomers. Currently, one-third of the American population is considered obese and women in their 20’s are twice as likely to be overweight. Women who are overweight have more trouble conceiving than a woman considered average or even under-weight. The main culprit for infertility due to obesity is hyper-tension & stress. When the body is carrying excess weight it has to work harder to keep the body functioning. The heart has to work strenuously to keep blood flowing and the the hormonal imbalance caused by excess fat signals to the reproductive organs that it is just too stressed to make magic happen. The good news is that over 70% of women who deal with infertility due to weight related issues we’re able to conceive after achieving and maintaining a healthy BMI.
2. We’re Stressed: The Psychological Association’s Annual “Stress in America Survey” declares the Millennial’s to be the most stressed generation. Believe it or not, our bodies fully equipped to prevent conception and ovulation during times of extreme stress. When we’re stressed we excrete more stress hormones such as adrenaline & cortisol which when produced frequently can reduce libido and prevent ovulation. It’s actually an incredible thing. Our bodies are so amazing when they sense that we’re not in a stable place physically or mentally they shut down unnecessary functions to conserve energy.
3. We’re Nutrient Deficient: Processed foods make up around 70% of the U.S. diet. There’s over 5,000 additives that are allowed to go into our food supply.
When our bodies aren’t getting healthy, wholesome foods that contain essential vitamins & minerals they aren’t as equipped to build a healthy baby.
4. Our Use of Birth Control: I remember the first time I went to the doctor for lady problems. I was 16. They didn’t ask any real questions instead they prescribed birth control, so I started taking the pill at 16 and didn’t take a break from it til I was nearly 20. I think it would go a long way if doctors started asking more lifestyle questions. What’s your diet like? Are you stressed? How’s your home life? Do you play sports? All of those factors can affect hormone production and the menstrual cycle. Birth control pills are also prescribed to teenagers to manage acne. When women take the pill to prevent unwanted pregnancy and quit when they decide they want to start a family, it can take a long time for the body to normalize. Depending on how long a woman has been on birth control and what type, it can take years to regulate. When the body has been pumped with synthetic hormones for months or years it doesn’t have the ability to think for itself so it’s thrown off when it has to start working on it’s own again. Women who are on birth control for long periods of time are twice as likely to have problems conceiving later. That being said, this isn’t a post against birth control, however I think women should be informed by their health care provider about the risks and side-effects of long-term pill use and work closer with their doctor in terms of family planning.