Reproductive health problems are on the rise in India and indeed all over the world because of lifestyle factors, occupational factors and because of other health factors.
In fact, human reproductive health in general is increasingly problematic because of stress – which may be a lifestyle factor or an occupational hazard.
In this post we are going to specifically observe the factors that negatively impact women’s reproductive health and problems to watch for.
Reproductive health problems to watch for:
Women need to be mindful and watch for patterns and changes in patterns in the behaviour of reproductive organs, menstruation and so on.
Not all the issues mentioned on this list are directly linked to reproduction. Some might be indirectly linked in the sense that they might create obstacles to getting pregnant.
- Unnaturally late or unnaturally early puberty (as compared to relevant demographic trends, or the median age that people of the said generation got their first period)
- Irregular, abnormal menstruation
- Extraordinarily heavy bleeding amidst menstruation that affects normal life
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or Polycystic Ovarian Dysfunction (PCOD) where a higher proportion of the male hormone androgen is released. This results in the formation of cysts.
- Non cancerous growths – known as fibroids – in a woman’s uterus
Additionally, lack of sexual desire might also be linked to the larger topic of sexual and reproductive health. Lack of sexual desire could logically cause reproductive issues.
Causes and risk factors linked to reproductive health issues
Certain kinds of professions, lifestyle choices, diet and other factors can have a surprising impact on female reproductive health. Let’s look at some potential causes and risk factors that contribute to female reproductive system diseases:
High stress levels can contribute to infertility and to irregular menstruation and even to PCOS and PCOD. It also has a huge capacity to reduce sex drive in women. Of course there is no eliminating stress completely but women must learn to cope with stress through meditation and optimal mental health practices.
Late nights/ night shifts
This isn’t just for women who work in airlines, call centres, hospitals and hotels but also for women who frequently burn the midnight oil because of a lacking work-life balance or a heavy social life. This is for you even if you frequently pull all-nighters grading papers of your students. And for you, if you spend the whole night binge watching stuff frequently
Being out and about in the nights frequently or as a lifestyle has been noted to result in ovaries producing fewer eggs. Adhere to a normal clock that is somewhat aligned with the sun if you can help it. Of course, the country needs doctors and nurses and people on night flights do need to be checked in and strapped into seat belts and served food and beverages. See what can be done in your own case.
Certain chemicals that are released in factory, production, commercial kitchen and salon set ups (and also in cosmetics, hair treatments and so on) have been found to scale down chances of conception and simultaneously increase chances miscarriage or fetal death due to some other reason.
Other chemicals have been found to negatively impact the fetus health, health of infants and overall health of the child. Examples include low birth weight, obesity and early arrival of menstruation.
Another common side effect of certain endocrine disrupting chemicals is short supply of breast milk.
A drug known as diethylstilbestrol/DES has been retrospectively found to create infertility issues and pregnancy complications in women born out of pregnancies where the drug was prescribed. If your mother was given the drug while she was carrying you in her womb, you could, unfortunately, suffer from its side effects.
Many women need to take medicines that somehow interact with or interfere with hormones. These medications, known as endocrine disrupting compounds, could negatively impact reproduction because they can impact everything from puberty to fertility and can complicate a pregnancy.
An environment that exposes the woman to lead and mercury could result in low fertility or all out infertility.
Despite living in a sunny country like India, many Indians suffer from vitamin D deficiency. This deficiency has been proven to increase risk of fibroids that we talked about in our list of reproductive disorders mentioned above.
Post-traumatic stress related to rape and sexual harassment can cause low sexual desire in women and this could result in reproductive issues because the woman might be resistant to idea of sexual intercourse.
Women who overdo weight training can experience a lower amount of eggs released by ovaries.
Lack of awareness in rural areas and less educated/ less open sections of society can affect the sexual and reproductive health of women from these demographics because they might lack adequate hygiene practices and might perceive sexual intercourse negatively. They also might not understand the menstruation-ovulation cycle. Gynecologists will cite endless anecdotes about married couples from these demographics being clueless about the connection between sexual intercourse and pregnancy.
At the other end of the societal spectrum, perceived unattractiveness due to social media-propagated “body goals”, complications and insecurity in relationships might also affect sexual and reproductive health of women.
Reproductive health must be heeded and paid attention to irrespective of whether pregnancy is a goal and irrespective of whether pregnancy is on the horizon. You need to maintain reproductive health even if your childbearing days are behind you and even if you have no intention of being a mother. The delicate ecosystem that makes up the female reproductive tract can still cause life-threatening illnesses if complications arise and are left untreated.
You use your hair for absolutely nothing and still invest time, money and attention into caring for luscious locks. Put at least that much effort, capital and mindfulness into caring for your reproductive system that actually does have serious health implications.