Many studies conducted over the years have shown that a range of different factors, not just our genes or our overall health, can impact our fertility. For example, a person’s lifestyle and exposure to various environmental stresses and contaminants can reduce their ability to conceive naturally. But what are these specific environmental factors, and how can they impact our reproductive health if not kept in check?

We’ve aimed to answer this in greater detail below, to give you a better understanding of how the environment may prevent people from having the families that they want. We have also included some information on newer practices starting up in the world of fertility that might help to protect the environment ‒ and may even contribute towards preserving our ability to conceive.

How Does The Environment Affect Our Fertility?

Most environmental factors related to cases of infertility or subfertility have been found to be based around different kinds of chemical exposure. Different industrial chemicals and pollutants, including herbicides and pesticides, have all been found to have an impact on a person’s ability to conceive or to achieve a successful pregnancy. Being repeatedly exposed to heavy metals (such as lead), radiation or x-rays, or even extremely high temperatures has also been found to have an impact on a person’s reproductive ability.

Experts have found that environmental pollutants and toxicants (including chemicals and radiation) can have the following effects on a person’s reproductive ability and health:

  • Abnormal sperm (in terms of morphology, motility, and count)
  • Adverse ovarian effects
  • Adverse testicular effects
  • Altered sex ratio (the ratio of biologically male to biologically female people in a population)
  • Altered time to sexual maturation (accelerated or delayed puberty)
  • Early onset menopause
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Endometriosis
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fetotoxicity (miscarriages or stillbirths)
  • Genito-urinary malformations (in male and female patients)
  • Hormonal changes (in the levels of circulating sex hormones)
  • Low birth weight (intrauterine growth restriction, or being small for gestational age)
  • Menstrual disorders (abnormal bleeding, short or long cycles, irregular cycles, or painful periods)
  • Ovarian atrophy
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension)
  • Preterm delivery
  • Reduced female fertility
  • Reduced male fertility
  • Reproductive tract toxicity in female patients
  • Reproductive tract toxicity in male patients

It has also been noted that these impacts on the reproductive system may result from exposures that have taken place at any point during a person’s lifetime. They may even have happened before the person was actually conceived. Exposure to toxicants as an egg or sperm cell, or as a foetus, is just as likely to have an impact on a person’s ability to reproduce as exposure to toxicants when the person is a baby, a child, going through puberty, or an adult.

Green IVF And Reducing The Impact

A study conducted by Health Care Without Harm found that the healthcare industry produces the equivalent of 4.4% of global net emissions. This means that if the industry were a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet. 0.5% of this alone is coming from equipment and technology related to IVF, and this number is only due to grow if practices are not changed.

There are a number of different ways that the way IVF is carried out can be altered to ensure a cleaner, safer environment. For example, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported that 85% of healthcare waste is non-hazardous and can be treated in the same way as domestic waste. This also means that it can also potentially be recycled, and campaigners are calling for clinical equipment which cannot be recycled to be replaced with alternatives that can. Alongside this, there have been calls for more sustainable practices across every part of the industry, from sourcing equipment and technology from more local suppliers or green energy providers to refusing unnecessary packaging, and reusing products or upcycling them wherever possible.

It is also highly recommended that clinics perform their own sustainability audit. This doesn’t have to be a large, in-depth study; it can simply be a team taking a step back and looking at ways that their practices can be made greener and more environmentally-friendly. As more clinics take up this opportunity, practices can be more easily adopted across the industry as a whole. Eventually, what was seen as a revolutionary way of thinking and carrying out tasks will become the standard for all clinics everywhere.

The hope from all of this is that fertility healthcare providers will be able to make lasting changes that help to reduce the overall carbon footprint of IVF, leading to a cleaner planet for everyone

Supporting Greener Practices

GENNET City Fertility is proud to support the introduction of “Green IVF” and is in favour of more sustainable practices conducted at fertility clinics across the UK, as well as around the world. We want the absolute best for our patients and their families, both inside the clinic and in their daily lives, and there is no better way to ensure this than by helping to make sure the place they live in is clean and free from pollutants.

By reducing toxicants in the water, earth, and air wherever we all can, it may even be possible to improve the long-term reproductive health of many people across the globe.

Helping You With Your Fertility

If you are worried about your own ability to conceive for any reason, including potential environmental causes of infertility, we are here to help. By contacting us and arranging a free, 30-minute mini consultation with our specialist, you’ll be able to explore your options for tests, assessments, and even treatments that may see your fertility improve. You may even be presented with options for assisted reproductive technologies that could help you to get started on the journey to parenthood as soon as possible.

Working in partnership with Redia IVF, we are also glad to say that our treatment cycles can be covered by their IVF refund guarantee programmes. This ensures that your money will be returned if the treatment is unsuccessful, leaving you free to try again if you wish and saving money from your budget if you would prefer to take a break. Contact Redia IVF to learn more about their available programmes and start your fertility treatment in financial security whenever it suits you best.

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