Information Technology industry employs a significant chunk of the population and provides ample opportunities to people for growth in many dimensions. However, the job profile has also given rise to various psychological and physical issues including male/female infertility.
Before exploring the connection between IT industry and infertility, let us first understand what infertility is? and what causes it?
What is infertility?
Infertility is the condition of difficulty in conceiving despite having regular sex without the use of contraception. There is no specific parameter to indicate why some couples take no time to conceive while others have to resort to many treatment options. Medically, a couple is considered infertile if they have not been able to conceive for over two years despite having regular intercourse without contraception.
What causes infertility?
Male infertility can be attributed to:
- Age – As man ages, it becomes increasingly difficult for him to achieve pregnancy compared to younger men.
- Stress – Stress is known to impact the libido to a great extent.
- Impotence – Related to erectile dysfunction can affect male fertility.
- Problems related to sperm – Low sperm count, abnormal sperms, low motility, etc. can reduce the ability of a male to cause conception. Several factors impact sperm quality and production such as testicular infections, tumours, undescended testes, substance abuse, ill-fitting underwear’s, varicoceles, hormonal problems such as Cushing’s disease, etc.
Female infertility can be attributed to:
- Blocked fallopian tubes – Blockages in the fallopian tubes due to prior surgeries, or any other physiological reasons can prevent pregnancy
- Endometriosis – A condition where the tissue (endometrium) that should be inside the uterus is found outside the uterus affecting the ovaries, uterus and nearby structures.
- Fibroids – A noncancerous growth in the uterus is also known to cause infertility.
- Ovulation problems – Inability to produce enough or quality eggs is the primary cause of female infertility. These ovulation problems can be due to premature menopause, polycystic ovary syndrome, hormonal imbalances, weight issues, stressful environment, etc.
Now you may be wondering as to how information technology fits into this picture?
Before the software industry boom, workplace-related issues were minimal. That is to say; one couldn’t blame the work profile for their infertility. Software industry, along with prosperity and ample opportunities brought with it several psychological and physiological issues such as:
- Stress disorders, anxiety, depression
- Long sitting hours causing postural disorders
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Smoking habits to combat stress or help to think
- Unearthly work hours causing overall system disruption
- Rising infertility among male and female professionals alike
While one cannot directly link infertility as a symptom of the software industry, the various psychological and physiological issues caused due to the work profile plays a major role in causing infertility.
Age plays a very vital role in the ability to conceive, be it male or female. Particularly for the women, the clock starts ticking faster after they hit the 30s. However, in an attempt to establish oneself in the career and achieve one’s goals, people tend to ignore this or put it off for as long as possible, until they have missed the time.
Let us take the case of stress as a factor. Long work hours, stress to meet the deadlines, stress to stay in the race, a constant need to prove oneself, more so for the female professionals. All these stressors can impact both the male and female libidos. In situations where both the couples are working for long hours or are frequently travelling, hardly find any time to procreate. Tiredness and lack of interest usually keep them away from having relaxed intercourse, so vital to be able to conceive. Stressful environments are also known to cause menstrual cycle disruptions and hormonal imbalances in female professionals.
Lifestyle choices are an important factor here. Unhealthy and irregular eating habits and lack of exercise can lead to obesity, diabetes, blood pressures, etc. which in turn can impact one’s ability to get pregnant. Substance abuse such as smoking and high consumption of caffeinated drinks have also been known to impact fertility directly.
Long term exposure and excessive exposure to computer radiation and heat are known to cause many health issues, including fertility issues.
Sexologist, gynaecologists, fertility experts have seen an alarming trend in the rise of a number of couples from IT industry seeking fertility treatments even in their prime fertile age. This trend is evident in the 30 to 40 percent growth in the IVF industry.
A rough estimate suggests that nearly 30 million couples are suffering from infertility putting the incidence rate at approximately 10%. While not all of them are related to IT industry, this situation requires an about turn with healthy lifestyle choices, stress management techniques, putting one’s health before anything else, and being mindful of the changes in one’s body and staying with the biological clock.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Infertility – Accessed on March 5, 2016 – http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/
- U.S. National Library of Medicine – Infertility – Accessed on March 5, 2016 – https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001191.htm