EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INFERTILITY
Infertility is a disease of the male or female reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.
If you and your partner are struggling to have a baby, you’re not alone. Infertility affects millions of people of reproductive age worldwide – and has a long-standing impact on their families and communities. Estimates suggest that between 48 million couples and 186 million individuals are diagnosed with infertility globally.
It can be primary or secondary. Primary infertility is when a pregnancy has never been achieved by a person, and secondary infertility is when at least one prior pregnancy has been achieved.
In the male reproductive system, infertility is most commonly caused by problems in the ejection of semen, absence or low levels of sperm, or abnormal shape (morphology) and movement (motility) of the sperm. When it comes to the female reproductive system, infertility may be caused by a range of abnormalities of the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, and endocrine system, among others.
According to several global pieces of research, about one-third of infertility cases can be attributed to female infertility while men’s problems account for another third of infertility cases. The remaining third of cases may be caused by a combination of male and female infertility, or they may have no known cause.
The main and foremost symptom of infertility is not getting pregnant. There may be no other obvious symptoms. Most of the time, 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.
There’s no need to worry or visit a doctor about infertility unless one has been trying regularly to get pregnant for at least one year. Women should consult a doctor earlier if they:
- Are age thirty-five or older and have been trying to conceive for six months or longer
- Have irregular or absent periods
- Have very painful periods
- Have undergone treatment for cancer
- Are over age forty
- Have been diagnosed with endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease
- Have known fertility problems
- Have had multiple miscarriages
As far as men are concerned, one should pay a visit to a doctor if they have:
- A low sperm count or other problems with sperm
- Small testicles or swelling in the scrotum
- Others in your family with infertility problems
- A history of testicular, prostate, or sexual problems
- Undergone treatment for cancer
Female infertility can be caused by a variety of factors that affect/interfere with the following biological processes:
- Ovulation, when the mature egg is released from the ovary.
- Fertilization, which takes place when sperm meets the egg in the fallopian tube after traveling through the cervix and uterus.
- Implantation, which takes place when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus where it can then grow and develop into a baby.
Further mentioning a few most commonly seen causes:
- Ovulation disorders
- Uterine or cervical abnormalities
- Primary ovarian insufficiency (early menopause)
- Fallopian tube damage or blockage
- Cancer and its treatments (particularly reproductive cancers)
- Pelvic adhesions
To shed some light on male infertility, some of the causes are:
- Cancer and its treatment (radiation or chemotherapy)
- Low/Abnormal sperm production or function
- Problems regarding the delivery of sperm
- Cigarette smoking
- Alcohol consumption
- Anabolic steroids etc.
“Can infertility be prevented?” This is one of the FAQs. Unfortunately, some types of infertility can’t be prevented; however, there are multiple strategies that might increase the chances of pregnancy.
- Avoiding drug and tobacco use
- Avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol
- Avoiding overexposure to industrial or environmental toxins
- Limit caffeine
- Adopt a healthy, active lifestyle
- Exercise regularly
Apart from adopting the aforementioned strategies, having regular intercourse multiple times during and around the time of ovulation considerably improves the chances of pregnancy.