Parenthood is one of the most magical aspects in a couple’s life. The ability to bring up another life is a dream for many. Yet, some couples fail to achieve this. There are a multitude of factors causing Infertility.
In medical terms, Infertility is defined as the failure to achieve pregnancy even after undergoing one year of unprotected sexual contact for couples aged below 35. The time period considered is six months for couples above the age of 35 because the ability to conceive rapidly decreases for people above 35.
Male Infertility and Female Infertility
Both men and women can suffer from Infertility and there are a variety of factors causing it.
The Factors that lead to Conception
For a couple to get pregnant, the following conditions should be met:
- The female partner has to undergo Ovulation- Eggs are released from Ovaries
- The sexual intercourse should ideally be happening around the time of Ovulation- Midday of a menstrual cycle, from 12th to 14th day in a 28-day menstrual cycle.
- Sperms of the male partner should reach the fallopian tube where fertilization is most likely to occur.
- The fertilized egg must cross through Fallopian Tubes and implantation will occur in Uterus.
Difficulty with any or every process of the above-listed factors can lead to failure of conception.
Why Infertility occurs in both genders
The infertility issue is not gender-specific. Males and females are quite equally affected. Some causes common to both sexes:
- Substance addiction, Nicotine consumption, Alcohol consumption, and smoking disrupt the health and quality of gametes.
- Lifestyle and endocrine disorders such as Obesity, Diabetes, Cystic Fibrosis, Autoimmune diseases limit the chances of healthy conception.
- Infections and hormonal diseases
- Poor and unbalanced diet
Infertility in Men
The semen analysis gives a good picture of the quality of sperms. The concentration- number, Motility- Movement, and Morphology can be determined using the semen analysis.
Some reasons that can cause infertility are
- Varicocele- This is a medical condition in which the veins of testicles are large and this causes them to overheat. Thereby, affecting the number and quality of sperms.
- The trauma of testes.
- Reproductive organ’s anatomic or functional disorders.
- Use of anabolic steroids, alcohol, smoking addiction, drug use.
- Improper functioning of Thyroid and Adrenal glands.
- Benign and malignant cancer of testes.
- Chemotherapy and some medication
- Genetic and chromosomal aberrations.
- Exposure to heat for long terms such as during wheelchair usage or frequent sauna baths.
- Exposure to medications such as flutamide, cimetidine, cyproterone, bicalutamide, etc.
Infertility In Women
Women face infertility due to hormonal dysfunctionality, anatomical or physiological issues. Potential causes are:
- Anovulatory periods during menstrual cycles. Common causes of anovulatory periods are PCOD and PCOS
- Diminished ovarian reserve- Unlike men, women possess all gametes/eggs by the time they are born. As a woman ages, this reserve starts decreasing.
- Tubal blockage- Fallopian Tubes may be obstructed if a woman has a history of pelvic infection, history of ruptured appendicitis, infections of Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia or endometriosis, etc.
- Abnormal Uterine anatomy or positioning.
- Absence of reproductive organs since birth.
- Poor diet, Age, Alcohol consumption, Eating disorders, Smoking habits..
How Will Doctors Find Out If Someone Has Infertility?
The assessment begins by collecting detailed personal and medical history. The initial evaluation usually includes Hormonal evaluation, Tubal evaluation, Ovarian reserve Testing of female partner and Semen analysis for male partner.
How Is Infertility Treated?
Infertility is mainly treated using medication, surgery, or assisted reproductive technologies. A combination of all might be used, if necessary. Your treatment plan will vary depending on the following:
- The age of the female partner.
- The factors contributing to infertility.
- The duration of infertility.
- Couple’s preferences.