The world cup craze is now reaching its fever pitch. It is not surprising the number of walking “zombies” in the streets is more evident after the overnight indulgence with the football fever. The famous Icelandic Singer-songwriter, Bjork, once said: “Football is a fertility festival. Eleven sperms trying to get into the egg, I feel sorry for the goalkeeper”. I am a big fan of Bjork, but I fundamentally disagree with her view. The football festival is anything but fertile.
It is well known facts many footie widows must cope with the temporary dormancy of their relationship during football seasons. Perhaps this is also one of the contributing factors for the declining birth-rates observed in many countries across the world.
In fact, there are many interesting measures countries had tried to enhance their respective birth-rates. Down the causeway, for example, the Singapore Government had spent $1.3bil annually trying to convince its people to get busy between the sheets. This includes cash incentives, parental packages and extended maternity leave to boost the 0.78 children per women birth rate. Two years ago, the campaign even encouraged the Singaporean to let their “patriotism explodes” on national day in the name of fertility.
On the other hand, when the Romanians were faced with zero population growth in 1960’s, the government to the opposite measures in imposing 20% tax increases for the childless couples as punishment and disallowed many divorces. Strict policing of illegal abortions in hospitals and cessation of birth control were also imposed at that time. Interestingly, impacts of the actions were effective.
In Russia, the number of populations has also been declining. The low birth-rates coupled with high death rates had prompted to Government to take drastic measures. Apparently, September 12th has been declared the National Day of Conception, with anticipation of the result of “procreation” will materialized nine months later on the real National Day (June 12th). In fact the lucky mommies who give birth on the auspicious day could even win cars and fridges!
Closer to home, the South Korean had actually recorded one of the lowest birthrate in the developed nations of 1.2 children per women. The government clearly has been concerned about this dire statistics and initiated the enticement of cash and tax incentives. In 2010, the campaign of “Office Lights off day” at 7pm on the third Wednesdays of every month, were introduced to dedicate to childbirth. It makes me wonder the impact of switching the electricity off on the night of the World Cup Finals would have on the world populations?
With the issues of declining birth-rates in mind, I would like to share with you a query from a concerned reader:
Dear Dr. G,
My name is David, and I have been a big fan of your column.
I have a problem and really would like to get your help.
My wife and I have been married for 7 years and we have a five-year old daughter.
We haven been wanting another baby, and has been trying for many years without any success.
I recently went to the doctors, who had asked for the semen analysis and I am glad to learn the numbers and the qualities are satisfactory.
My wife has also been to see her gynecologist, who checked her out and told her she is also normal.
The doctors had asked us to go for IVF, but I really think this is not very natural. Besides, I also do not think we can afford the treatment at the moment.
I really would like to let my daughter to have a baby brother before their age gap becomes too wide. Of course, both of us are hoping to complete our family in the next three years before we turn 40.
Can you please tell me what are the ways to enhance my fertility?
The strange thing about fertility is that one would assume the success of the conception of the first baby would guarantee a second pregnancy. Wrong! In fact being unable to conceive when you had already given birth to at least one child is called secondary infertility. One in seven couples actually encounter infertility and secondary infertility is actually more common than not being able to conceive the first time! Of course, having a normal gynecological check up and semen parameters are also not a guarantee for pregnancy.
The consumption of alcohol and smoking are well known to hinder the production of sperms. The excessive consumption of alcohol and impair the liver function tests and increases the female hormone, estrogen, which may negatively impact spermatogemesis. Generally, non-smokers will have 22% more sperms than the smokers. Moreover, cigarettes also induce deformity and immotility gametes, which had big impact on fertility.
Certain food that are associated with enhanced sperm quality include folic acid, Zinc, L-arginine (found in nuts and sesame seeds), and anti-oxidants such as selenium and Vitamin E. Generally, the diet that is low in fat and high in protein is healthy for the sperm production. Therefore, fruits and vegetables are crucial for healthy sperms.
Keeping the testicles cool with less hot bath, sauna and tight underpants had also been associated with the cooling effects of the testicles. The reduction of the temperature from core body heat is vital for the healthy sperms. The operations to eradicate the dilated veins (Varicocele) of the testicles may also help to reduce the heat in the scrotum.
So David, with the above measures in mind, you should be doing your part to boost the troubling low worldwide birthrates. You never know, the lucky baby boy may even arrive on the national day to win you a car or a fridge, and not forgetting the cash incentives and tax exemptions. Most importantly, turn off the electricity, even on the night of the World Cup finals! I am sure your dream goals are within reached! Happy Trying!