What is Infertility
Infertility refers to a disease of reproductive system whereby a woman or a man or both are unable to conceive after a year of trying of unprotected intercourse.
Conceiving may be considered an easy but often it is not. Approximately 10-15% of couples experience inability to conceive naturally at some point during their reproductive lives. Most couples will achieve pregnancy in first year of trying and some will conceive in the second year, but there are few who are unable to conceive and seeking help of a reproductive specialist.
As per experts, it is recommended to seek medical help if conception has not occurred within 12 months. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you will get benefited with the available ART techniques. If you are infertile, don’t get frustrated as there are several treatments option available and can help you achieve your dream of having a baby. With the help of reproductive technology, the number of live births is increasing day by day.
Infertility can affect anyone: one third of infertility cases can be attributed to male factors, the other one to female ones and in about 20% of cases, it is unexplained. The factors that can contribute to infertility include:
- Ovulation problem
- Genetic issues
- Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
- Previous surgery to the uterus or cervix
- Uterine fibroids
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Chemotherapy or other therapy that can lead to infertility
- Low sperm count
- Low sperm motility
- Certain hormone problems
- Side effects from certain medications
In addition, increasing age is the most common cause of infertility in females as well as in males along with poor nutrition, smoking, drinking alcohol, lubricant use, emotional stress, and being overweight or underweight. In order to evaluate infertility, your doctor may perform some screening tests include history and physical examination, HSG (Hysterosalpingogram), transvaginal ultrasound and semen analysis. And on the basis of these screening tests results, your doctor recommends you the treatment.
Female’s inability to conceive after a year of trying or unprotected intercourse due to certain medical reasons is known as female infertility. However treatments are available for them, she and her male partner need to access their fertility. There are some tests to be done for appropriate treatment including blood tests to check hormone levels or STDs, diagnostic tests like laparoscopy and hysterosalpingography to detect scar tissue and tubal obstruction, an endometrial biopsy for checking the uterus lining and ultrasonography to check the follicle growth and to monitor the ovaries.
Causes of female infertility
A number of factors can cause female infertility including:
- Tubal pathology – Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes: Fallopian tubes which carry eggs from ovaries to uterus may be blocked or damaged and prevent the egg and sperm contact. In addition, endometriosis, pelvic infections and surgeries may lead to fallopian tube damage and scar tissue.
- Unexplained infertility (idiopathic)
- Cervical factor – Cervical condition where sperm cannot pass through cervical canal may lead to infertility
- Hormonal disturbances – anovulatory cycle, ovulatory disorder
- Age – As female grows older, the quality of eggs decline
- Other causes – premature ovarian failure, uterine factors, smoking, alcohol drinking, radiation treatment like chemotherapy and anatomic abnormality are some other factors affecting female infertility.
The treatment of female infertility depends on the cause, including:
- Fertility drugs for ovulation induction
- Proper follicular monitoring
- In Vitro Fertilization or IVF- ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) or IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), FET
- Eggs donation
Similar to women, men can also face several infertility issues, often due to low sperm count or any other medical issue. In one third of all infertility cases, the problem is solely due to the male partner. Commonly it is due to deficiencies in the semen and its quality. Other causes include:
- Retrograde ejaculation
- Undescended testicles
- Genetic abnormalities
- Lack of vas deferens
- A blockage in a man’s reproductive system
- Testicular cancer
- An underlying medical problem and etc.
Today, millions of men face infertility, but fortunately with the help of advanced biological science, several men with infertility issues go on to become fathers. It may take several months to diagnose infertility, so if you don’t receive solution quickly, don’t get discouraged. The diagnostic for male infertility includes:
- Semen Analysis where each semen parameter is carefully examined as per international standards. It will be examined for the quantity, quality, shapes, sperm appearance and how quickly the sperm move.
- Study of sperm morphology
- Hypoosmotic sperm swelling test
- Direct or Indirect anti-sperm antibody testing
- A blood test to check hormone level or its associated problems
On the basis of the cause, several treatments are available for male infertility such as hormone treatment, medication and surgery. However the two most common treatments are IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) and IUI (Intrauterine Insemination).