Infertility is a condition that affects 10-15% of couples in the United States. Many couples are busy trying to find ways to have a baby.
Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant despite having frequent, unprotected sex for at least a year for most couples.
Infertility may result from an issue with either you or your partner, or a combination of factors that prevent pregnancy. Fortunately, there are many safe and effective therapies that significantly improve your chances of getting pregnant. We will discuss them here in this post.
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The main symptom of infertility is that you do not get pregnant. There may be no other obvious symptoms. Sometimes, a woman with infertility may have irregular or absent menstrual periods. In some cases, a man with infertility may have some signs of hormonal problems, such as changes in hair growth or sexual function.
Most couples will eventually conceive, with or without treatment
Is infertility a male or female issue?
Infertility results from female factors about one-third of the time and male factors about one-third of the time. The cause is either unknown or a combination of male and female factors in the remaining cases.
Female infertility causes can be difficult to diagnose. There are many available treatments, which will depend on the cause of infertility. Many infertile couples will go on to conceive a child without treatment. After trying to get pregnant for two years, about 95 percent of couples successfully conceive.
Many couples struggle with infertility and seek help to become pregnant, but it is often thought of as only a woman’s condition. However, in about 35% of couples with infertility, a male factor is identified along with a female factor. In about 8% of couples with infertility, a male factor is the only identifiable cause.
Almost 9% of men aged 25 to 44 years in the United States reported that they or their partner saw a doctor for advice, testing, or treatment for infertility during their lifetime.
What is the ratio of infertility?
An estimated 1 in 10 women between the ages of 15 and 44 have trouble conceiving.
Women who have pregnancy problems may lose the baby:
- Before the 20th week of pregnancy (miscarriage).
- After the 20th week of pregnancy (stillbirth).
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What are the 2 types of infertility?
Types of infertility include:
- Primary: A woman who was never pregnant and who can’t conceive after one year of not using birth control.
- Secondary: Secondary infertility occurs when a woman can’t get pregnant again after having at least one successful pregnancy.
What are risk factors for infertility in all genders?
These factors increase the risk of infertility in all genders:
- Age (over age 35 for women or over 40 for men).
- Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
- Excessive alcohol use.
- Exposure to environmental toxins, such as lead and pesticides.
- Over exercising.
- Radiation therapy or other cancer treatments.
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
- Substance abuse.
- Weight problems (obesity or underweight).
How is infertility managed in medicine?
Often, medication and intrauterine insemination are used at the same time. Doctors recommend specific treatments for infertility on the basis of
- The factors contributing to the infertility.
- The duration of the infertility.
- The age of the female.
- The couple’s treatment preference after counseling about success rates, risks, and benefits of each treatment option.
What are some of the causes of infertility in women?
Infertility issues in women can be many. In order for women to conceive, they must be able to have working ovaries, fallopian tubes . Conditions affecting any one of these organs can contribute to female infertility. Some of these conditions are listed below and can be evaluated using a number of different tests.
Disruption of ovarian function (presence or absence of ovulation (anovulation) and effects of ovarian “age”)
A woman with irregular periods is likely not ovulating.
How is ovulation predicted?
Ovulation can be predicted by using an ovulation predictor kit and can be confirmed by a blood test to check the woman’s progesterone level on day 21 of her menstrual cycle. Although several tests exist to evaluate a woman’s ovarian function, no single test is a perfect predictor of fertility.
The most commonly used markers of ovarian function include follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) value on day 3 to 5 of the menstrual cycle, anti-müllerian hormone value (AMH), and antral follicle count (AFC) using a transvaginal ultrasound.
Disruptions in ovarian function may be caused by several conditions and warrants an evaluation by a doctor.
What are some of the reasons for female infertility?
I tried to keep it simple so you can understand.
Each of these factors is essential to become pregnant:
- You need to ovulate. To get pregnant, your ovaries must produce and release an egg, a process known as ovulation. Your doctor can help evaluate your menstrual cycles and confirm ovulation.
- Your partner needs sperm. For most couples, this isn’t a problem unless your partner has a history of illness or surgery. Your doctor can run some simple tests to evaluate the health of your partner’s sperm.
- You need to have regular intercourse. You need to have regular sexual intercourse during your fertile time. Your doctor can help you better understand when you’re most fertile.
- You need to have open fallopian tubes and a normal uterus. The egg and sperm meet in the fallopian tubes, and the embryo needs a healthy uterus in which to grow.
For pregnancy to occur, every step of the human reproduction process has to happen correctly. The steps in this process are:
- One of the two ovaries releases a mature egg.
- The egg is picked up by the fallopian tube.
- Sperm swim up the cervix, through the uterus and into the fallopian tube to reach the egg for fertilization.
- The fertilized egg travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus.
- The fertilized egg implants and grows in the uterus.
In women, a number of factors can disrupt this process at any step. Female infertility is caused by one or more of the factors below.
Ovulation disorders, meaning you ovulate infrequently or not at all, account for infertility in about 1 in 4 infertile couples. Problems with the regulation of reproductive hormones by the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland, or problems in the ovary, can cause ovulation disorders.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS causes a hormone imbalance, which affects ovulation. PCOS is associated with insulin resistance and obesity, abnormal hair growth on the face or body, and acne. It’s the most common cause of female infertility.
- Hypothalamic dysfunction. Two hormones produced by the pituitary gland are responsible for stimulating ovulation each month — follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Excess physical or emotional stress, a very high or very low body weight, or a recent substantial weight gain or loss can disrupt production of these hormones and affect ovulation. Irregular or absent periods are the most common signs.
- Premature ovarian failure. Also called primary ovarian insufficiency, this disorder is usually caused by an autoimmune response or by premature loss of eggs from your ovary (possibly from genetics or chemotherapy). The ovary no longer produces eggs, and it lowers estrogen production in women under the age of 40.
- Too much prolactin. The pituitary gland may cause excess production of prolactin (hyperprolactinemia), which reduces estrogen production and may cause infertility. Usually related to a pituitary gland problem, this can also be caused by medications you’re taking for another disease.
Damage to fallopian tubes (tubal infertility)
Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes keep sperm from getting to the egg or block the passage of the fertilized egg into the uterus. Causes of fallopian tube damage or blockage can include:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes due to chlamydia, gonorrhea or other sexually transmitted infections
- Previous surgery in the abdomen or pelvis, including surgery for ectopic pregnancy, in which a fertilized egg implants and develops in a fallopian tube instead of the uterus
- Pelvic tuberculosis, a major cause of tubal infertility worldwide, although uncommon in the United States
Endometriosis occurs when tissue that normally grows in the uterus implants and grows in other locations. This extra tissue growth — and the surgical removal of it — can cause scarring, which may block fallopian tubes and keep an egg and sperm from uniting.
Endometriosis can also affect the lining of the uterus, disrupting implantation of the fertilized egg. The condition also seems to affect fertility in less-direct ways, such as damage to the sperm or egg.
Uterine or cervical causes
Several uterine or cervical causes can impact fertility by interfering with implantation or increasing the likelihood of a miscarriage:
- Benign polyps or tumors (fibroids or myomas) are common in the uterus. Some can block fallopian tubes or interfere with implantation, affecting fertility. However, many women who have fibroids or polyps do become pregnant.
- Endometriosis scarring or inflammation within the uterus can disrupt implantation.
- Uterine abnormalities present from birth, such as an abnormally shaped uterus, can cause problems becoming or remaining pregnant.
- Cervical stenosis, a narrowing of the cervix, can be caused by an inherited malformation or damage to the cervix.
- Sometimes the cervix can’t produce the best type of mucus to allow the sperm to travel through the cervix into the uterus.
Sometimes, the cause of infertility is never found. A combination of several minor factors in both partners could cause unexplained fertility problems. Although it’s frustrating to get no specific answer, this problem may correct itself with time. But, you shouldn’t delay treatment for infertility. Seek specialized help to get to the root of this problem.
- Fallopian tubes: Is pregnancy possible with only one?
- Hypothyroidism and infertility: Any connection?
Certain factors may put you at higher risk of infertility, including:
- Age. The quality and quantity of a woman’s eggs begin to decline with increasing age. In the mid-30s, the rate of follicle loss speeds, resulting in fewer and poorer quality eggs. This makes conception more difficult, and increases the risk of miscarriage.
- Smoking. Besides damaging your cervix and fallopian tubes, smoking increases your risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. It’s also thought to age your ovaries and deplete your eggs prematurely. Stop smoking before beginning fertility treatment.
- Weight. Being overweight or significantly underweight may affect normal ovulation. Getting to a healthy body mass index (BMI) may increase the frequency of ovulation and likelihood of pregnancy.
- Sexual history. Sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can damage the fallopian tubes. Having unprotected intercourse with multiple partners increases your risk of a sexually transmitted infection that may cause fertility problems later.
- Alcohol. Stick to moderate alcohol consumption of no more than one alcoholic drink per day.
For women thinking about getting pregnant soon or in the future, these tips may help optimize fertility:
- Maintain a normal weight. Overweight and underweight women are at increased risk of ovulation disorders. If you need to lose weight, exercise moderately. Strenuous, intense exercise of more than five hours a week has been associated with decreased ovulation.
- Quit smoking. Tobacco has multiple negative effects on fertility, not to mention your general health and the health of a fetus. If you smoke and are considering pregnancy, quit now.
- Avoid alcohol. Heavy alcohol use may lead to decreased fertility. And any alcohol use can affect the health of a developing fetus. If you’re planning to become pregnant, avoid alcohol, and don’t drink alcohol while you’re pregnant.
- Reduce stress. Some studies have shown that couples experiencing psychological stress had poorer results with infertility treatment. If you can, find a way to reduce stress in your life before trying to become pregnant.
- Limit caffeine. Research suggests that limiting caffeine intake to less than 200 milligrams a day shouldn’t affect your ability to get pregnant. That’s about one to two cups of 6 to 8 ounces of coffee per day.
What are some of the reasons for male infertility?
These factors can cause male infertility:
- Enlarged veins (varicocele) in the scrotum, the sac that holds the testicles.
- Genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis.
- High heat exposure to testicles from tight clothing or frequent use of hot tubs and saunas.
- Injury to the scrotum or testicles.
- Low sperm count or low testosterone (hypogonadism).
- Misuse of anabolic steroids.
- Premature ejaculation or retrograde ejaculation (semen flows back into the bladder).
- Testicular cancer and treatments.
- Undescended testicles.
Unfortunately infertility is a part of our society. The most important thing is for couples to take good care of themselves ensuring that they are doing those things that would give them a head start in beginning the process. Many couples are desperately trying to find ways to make their dream of having a baby a reality.
If you are reading this and are experiencing this condition, I truly hope that you get good results in your quest. Remember not to blame your partner because both of you can be having issues that contribute to not getting pregnant. I say still trust in God to give you the desires of your heart. Thanks for stopping by today. and do visit again. Feel free to comment or ask a question below. What has your experience been like during infertility? Do you have a success story ? Let me know.
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Thought for today:
Hebrews 11:11: “Because of faith also Sarah herself received physical power to conceive a child, even when she was long past the age for it, because she considered [God] Who had given her the promise to be reliable and trustworthy and true to His word.”
Believe God to do it for you today because all things are possible to those who believe! (Matthew 19:29. What are you believing God for right now ? Make your petitions known to Him for He cares for you.