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Radiation therapy and its impact on fertility

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radiation therapy

Radiation is not really a choice when it comes to cancer treatments. Sometimes, it becomes mandatory to provide radiation therapy to ensure sustainability of the individual and constraint and restrict growth of the malignant cells. Unfortunately, for people who are trying to conceive, radiation may have other adverse affects on fertility. Here are some of them-

 

Genetic Effects

radiation and conception

Radiation is known to penetrate though the various layers of the cells and create a negative genetic impact on children of those exposed. In cases, where the eggs or even the sperm gets radiated, the effects of radiation passes on to animals, which is seen as per various tests.

Studies show that the risk of genetic effects on kids of the next generation does exist, even though it may be rather small. This was a study conducted on the patients exposed to radiation during the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. 50 years post the attacks, it is seen that the risk of genetic abnormality followed by birth defects was extremely narrow. But though the risk is very little, it cannot be really ignored in the hereditary component of mutations.

 

Loss of Interest in Sex

loss of interest in sex

In most men, there has been a drastic decrease in interest in sex post radiation. This is considered as the after math of the radiation therapy. Some individuals also complain of pain during ejaculation or even trouble in having erections. However, in both cases, it is possible to overcome the same via medicines and therapy. The problem is temporary but it can be easily overcome.

 

Radiation Therapy Areas

therapy areas

For women, beam radiation therapy is rather common on the pelvis, hip, femur along with the bladder and prostate are exposed to radiation. However, an attempt is made to shield the same by the doctors. But in cases of high radiation to either testes or the ovaries, there is a very high risk of permanent sterility or even temporary one. However, in case no damage is caused to these areas during cancer, further risks are minimized.

So on the whole, though radiation poses a minimum amount of risks of infertility, the reason for the same is because of damage caused directly to the reproductive parts during the ordeal, not as a result of the after effect. In spite of temporary issues related to fertility, in the long run most patients are able to conceive naturally. It is essential to follow intensive treatment post the radiation and eat a healthy and nutritious diet. Combining this with a positive outlook, you should not face fertility issues.

posted Mar 4, 2016 by Dr Alok

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genetics and fertility

Image 1

You can change habits, your lifestyle, etc. when it comes to increasing your chances at conception. But the one thing that is often not considered as an impediment to fertility has to be genetics. Your genes are something that have been passed on from one generation to another, either from your maternal or paternal lineage. Lower sperm count or egg count is often attributed to your genes rather than just lifestyle or your current medical status. Here is how genetics has an impact on your fertility rate-

Menopause

Menopause

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For women, the onset of menopause is the end of their fertile stage. However, for some women it tends to happen much earlier as compared to the other. Menopause is also linked to your reproductive biology. So even if you are living a healthy lifestyle, avoiding smoking, etc. you are still at a risk of earlier menopause.

Lower Sperm Count

lower sperm count

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In some men, the cause of lower sperm count or even count itself is attributed to their genes. Some men suffer from the problem of chromosome translocation where it is seen that chromosomes swap material. Such individuals are known to have a higher chance of infertility. In fact, this issue is known to have an adverse affect on their partners too who are more prone to miscarriage because of this swapping issue.

Y chromosome Infertility

Y chromosome infertility

Image 4

This is a condition, which is known for having an adverse impact on the production of sperm. As a result, it becomes difficult for a man to father a child. In some rare cases, there may be no sperm production at all due to azoospermia. While some men may have a smaller number of sperm cells, which is known as oligospermia. In most cases, one finds that the sperms are also moving at an abnormally slow pace or there is no movement at all. There are assisted technologies and medical solutions available for this issue. However, in some cases, men are affected to the extent when there is actually no mature sperm present in the testes. Referred to as Y chromosome infertility named Sertoli, this cell-only syndrome is often not treatable.

Ovarian Failure

overian failure

Image 5

This is a problem that is also associated with genes in women. Some girls are known to suffer from premature ovarian failure, which is also known as POF.  POF has been related to underlying genetic issues. Some genetic factors are responsible for carrying the Fragile X syndrome that is a chromosome issue related to infertility.

What can be done?

Genetics and fertility

Image 6

With advancement in medical science, there are alternatives available for treating this issue. In some cases, men are suggested to undergo active genetics treatment and medications that aid in treating an array of these problems. Women can undergo a genetic test for fertility where optimum solutions can be devised.  Recent studies associated with viable egg follicles present in the ovaries showcase positive results, which are known to treat the problems associated with genetic infertility. In some drastic conditions, IVF and other invasive procedures might be suggested to overcome this issue.

Image 1 - Fertility and genetics

Image 2 - ConceptionsFlorida

Image 3 - Medicalnewstoday

Image 4 - Y chromosome infertility

Image 5 - hyderabadendocrinology

Image 6 - Genetics and fertility

 

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pollution and fertility

We have learnt to inhale the toxic air, eat the pesticide laden food and also let these chemicals seep through the layers of our skin over the years. Pollution is everywhere today. With industrial waste being dumped into oceans, toxins are now entering our system from the very lower layers of the eco-system and food chain.

But what has emerged probably too late is the impediment pollution is toward fertility.

How pollution affects fertility?

pollution affects fertility

As per the journal 'Environmental Health Perspectives’ pollution impacts us via chemicals like PCB orperchlorinated biphenyls. This is an industrial compound that is commonly used in pesticides too. Though the usage of the same has been stopped, it still remains to impact people. Research shows that it has reduced fertility rates in both men and women by 29%.

Male Infertility

Air pollution is researched to be the major cause of male infertility. In fact, research shows that male workers who tend to inhale higher levels of concentrated pollution are more prone to higher free radical levels in their body. In turn, their fertility rates, sperm quality, etc. are highly affected because of these chemicals.

Pregnancy and Miscarriage

pregnancy and fertility

Not only is conception an issue, but it has been seen that children born to pregnant women, who were exposed to higher pollution levels, have lower birth rates. A study revealed that about 9.1% infants were born below ideal birth rate. It also meant that premature birth rates increased due to pollution levels. 7.4% kids were born prematurely due to higher O3 or levels of ozone exposure in the air. Airborne particulate matter, which is commonly known as PM10 affects the fetus tremendously during the 2nd and 3rd trimester. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) exposure is one of the worst things that can affect pregnant women.

Can being away help?

global issue pollution

Sadly being away from all kinds of environmental pollutants is really not possible. No matter how far you go, there is some sort of pollution affecting you be it air, water, noise or other sources of pollution. A study reveals that 2,500 women were reportedly had issues with fertility because of pollution. 11% women and men were at higher infertility risks when they lived within a 200-meter radius from across roadway constructions. So yes staying away from polluted areas helps, because even though it may have a small impact - pollution is affecting your life in a negative way.

 

A global issue

Instead of going down, pollution levels are only increasing drastically and it is now affected global health. In particular, countries like Brazil and China have reportedly see high smog periods that have resulted in poor fertility rates. In particular, areas with high population density are prone to concentrated pollution with more vehicles and automobiles being used for transportation means. Areas that are home to steel, coal and other industrial belts are more prone to such pollution exposure. The World Health Organisation(WHO) has been concerned over the negative impact of pollution on both men and women fertility along with risks of miscarriage.

Does pollution affect both men and women?

Yes, pollution is now a problem impacting both men and women. In fact, WHO has indicated that pollution is largely a global problem generating health concerns among children and adults.

What can be done?

defying pollution

Sadly, there is not much to do here except in making an honest and dedicated effort towards reducing pollution levels. It is something that humanity has to take a step towards. If not, then coming generations are going to be negatively impacted because of pollution in terms of fertility and healthier pregnancies too.

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Testosterone is the hormone required for normal development and functioning of male reproductive organs and promoting secondary sexual characters like, elevating the muscle mass, increasing the bone mass and growth of body hair. A deficiency in the levels of this hormone in men results in a condition called hypogonadism. In late 1930s, a class of drugs was developed to overcome this condition, which would aid in treating - impotency, delayed puberty and effects of HIV infection. The drugs were also helpful in treating several forms of anemia, osteoporosis, burns and wounds.  These drugs were called ‘Anabolic Androgenic Steroids’ or just ‘Anabolic Steroids’ colloquially. These can be administered orally, topically or as a shot in the muscles.

With the increased understanding of the positive effects of this drug, abuse of this drug was a much expected outcome. Abuse is usually referred when the quantity consumed is way too higher than the prescribed limits. Athletes, body-builders and weight-lifters, used anabolic steroids to add appeal to their fitness and appearance.

Why are these steroids so enticing?

  • They promote development of muscle mass and skeletal mass by reducing body fat. An hour glass silhouette or a well built up body, who wouldn’t dream of it?
  • It propels performance exponentially in athletes and sportsmen, since the dosage is usually 10-100 times more than the prescribed limits.
  • The urge to take risks in adolescence, similar to alcoholism or other illicit drugs.

What are the side effects?

  • In men, anabolic steroids can cause reversible or irreversible changes to the hormonal system, leading to:

    • Reduced sperm count
    • Shrinkage of the testicles, both of which lead to impotency
    • Gynecomastia, which is development of breasts in men
  • Similarly, in women too it can cause both reversible and irreversible changes to hormonal system, leading to:
    • Enlargement of clitoris
    • Coarseness of skin
    • Increase in the volume of body hair
    • Decreased breast size
    • Deepening of  voice

Apart of these, the overdose can also effect the cardiovascular system, liver functioning, behavioral changes etc.

Treatment:

  • Counseling
  • Quitting the usage, where medications are given to overcome withdrawal symptoms
  • Teaching the adolescents about both the positive and negative effects can help
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