Infertility is defined as not having the ability to conceive despite having frequent, unprotected sex for a minimum of a year for couples or over six months if the woman is aged 35 or older.
Women who get pregnant but are unable to remain pregnant
If there are difficulties in conceiving a baby due to issues in you or your partner
Infertility is not just a problem in women, men can be infertile too. Both men and women are likely to possess fertility problems. Pregnancy may be prevented by issues in you or your partner or a combination of factors.
Symptoms of Infertility
The sole symptom of infertility is not getting pregnant. There may be no other symptoms. Sometimes, a woman with infertility may have irregular menstrual periods or no periods at all. For a man, hormonal problems which causes changes in hair growth or sexual function may be the signs of infertility
When to see a doctor
Normally a doctor is not consulted for infertility unless you have been trying to have a baby, when the woman is aged 35 or older and have been trying to conceive for six months or longer.
Aged over 40
Having irregular or absent periods
Having very painful periods
Has known fertility problems
Has been diagnosed with endometriosis or pelvic disease
Has had multiple miscarriages
Has undergone treatment for cancer
For a man
Has Low sperm count or other problems with sperm
A history of prostate, testicular or sexual problems
Has undergone treatment for cancer
Has small testicles or swelling in the scrotum
Has others in the family with infertility problems
Every step related to ovulation and fertilization has to go on correctly to get pregnant. Sometimes the issues that cause infertility in couples are hereditary or they develop sometime later in life.
Infertility causes can affect one or both partners:
Causes for male infertility
Causes of female infertility
Risk factors of infertility similar to both men and women
Various medications and medicines also can affect male fertility
Chemotherapy or radiation which is used for cancer, Sulphasalazine, which is used for Rheumatoid Arthritis or ulcerative colitis, Calcium channel blockers, which are used for high blood pressure, Tricyclic antidepressants, anabolic steroids, which are used for improved athletic performance or hormonal issues like delayed puberty, recreational drugs like marijuana and cocaine.
– Exposure to toxins, such as pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals
Most of the types of infertility are not preventable. Several conscious efforts may increase your chance of pregnancy.Have regular intercourse several times around the time of ovulation for the absolute best pregnancy rate. Intercourse beginning a minimum of 5 days before and until every day after ovulation improves your chances of getting pregnant. Ovulation usually occurs within the centre of the cycle — halfway between menstrual periods, for most women menstrual cycles are about 28 days apart.
Although most kinds of infertility are not preventable in men, these strategies may help:
For women, these strategies may increase the possibility of becoming pregnant
If you’ve been trying to conceive and have not been able to have a baby then you should plan to see a doctor.
Some tests are performed to assess fertility
Your doctor will first take your medical history, you may be asked about your general health, your sexual history and factors that might affect your fertility. A physical examination will be done, where your genitals will be examined for any structural abnormalities or lumps.
A semen analysis will be done. Your doctor will ask you to provide a sample of semen. This sample will then be checked to determine the percentage of sperm present and whether the sperm are shaped normally and moving properly.
Depending on the results of your initial exam and semen analysis, your doctor might want to perform additional tests.
These tests may include:
Your doctor will first take your medical history. You may be asked about your present status of your health, your sexual history, and any conditions or illnesses that would contribute to infertility.
Then your pelvic area will be examined to see for abnormalities like fibroids or conditions like endometriosis or PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease).
Your doctor will want to ascertain if you’re ovulating monthly. This will be determined with an ovulation kit or through blood tests.
An ultrasound scan of the abdomen may be done to examine the ovaries and uterus.
Other common tests for women include:
The treatment that is recommended will depend upon many factors
Cause for infertility, if known
After the consultation- Depending on your personal preferences and the treatment options available treatment is given
Depending on the cause of male infertility, treatment options for men can include surgery, medication, and assisted reproductive technology (ART).
Surgery can fix obstructions that are preventing sperm from being present within the ejaculate. It also can correct conditions like varicocele. In some cases, sperm are often retrieved directly from the testicles after which it is utilized in ART treatments.
Hormonal imbalances, ED (Erectile Dysfunction), and infections that affect the sperm count can be treated with medications.
ART refers to treatments like in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection where fertilization is done in a lab outside the body. Sperm for ART treatments are often received from ejaculate, extraction from the testicles, or a donor.
The treatment for female infertility also can involve surgery, medication, and reproductive assistance like ART. Sometimes a combination of treatments is needed to address female infertility.
Due to the advancement of infertility treatments, surgical treatment is rarely done. Surgery can improve fertility by,
Reproductive assistance can involve methods like IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination) and ART. During IUI, sperms are injected with the help of a long thin tube called the catheter into a woman’s uterus near the time of ovulation.
IVF is one sort of ART and involves the removal of eggs that are then fertilized with a man’s sperm in a laboratory. After fertilization, the embryo is placed back to the uterus.
The medications that used to treat female infertility work like the hormones that are naturally produced in a woman to either encourage or regulate ovulation.