What is infertility? According to World Health Organization, infertility is defined as a disease of the reproductive system. Additionally, it refers to the failure to conceive after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse between a man and a woman.
Are you having difficulty conceiving? It’s important to know what is infertility and how to treat this reproductive system condition.
What is infertility?
Infertility is a reproductive health condition where a couple cannot get pregnant after a year of having sex without using any birth control method. According to Mayo Clinic, fertility problems may be caused by an issue with either the woman or her partner, or maybe a combination of factors that prevent you from getting pregnant.
Moreover, there are two types of infertility. The first one is called primary infertility where a woman who was never pregnant cannot conceive after one year of having sex without using birth control.
Meanwhile, the second one, or secondary infertility refers to when a woman who had at least one successful pregnancy cannot get pregnant again.
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Causes of infertility
There are different factors affecting fertility. But, there are also cases where the causes of infertility are unexplainable. Here are some reasons or causes of infertility in men and women:
Causes of male infertility
What are the causes of male infertility? The following are some of the possible reasons for male infertility, according to World Health Organization:
- Dysfunctionalities in the ejection of semen are caused by the obstruction of the reproductive system.
- Injuries or infections of the genital tract cause blockages in the ejaculatory ducts and seminal vesicles.
- Hormonal disorders such as pituitary or testicular cancers.
- Impaired sperm-producing cells due to varicoceles or medical treatment such as chemotherapy.
- Abnormal function and quality of sperm.
Can a hernia cause infertility?
Hernia in men occurs when intestinal tissues stick out through a weak spot in the abdominal muscles. Additionally, it may cause inflammation or a lump in the groin, or an enlarged scrotum. According to Bangkok Hospital, there are surgeries for inguinal hernias that might disrupt sexual performance.
A serious complication of hernia may cut off the blood supply to the testicles. Furthermore, it may affect sperm production which may result in less sperm count. Moreover, the hernia or the surgical procedure to treat hernia may damage the muscular tube that transport mature sperm to the urethra. This condition can cause difficulty for men to conceive through sexual intercourse.
Causes of female infertility
Here are some possible reasons for female fertility problems:
- Ovarian disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Follicular disorders
- Imbalances of reproductive hormones are caused by endocrine system disorders such as pituitary cancers and hypopituitarism.
- Uterine disorders such as septate uterus or fibroids
- A blocked fallopian tube that is caused by untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Tubal disorders are caused by unsafe abortion, postpartum sepsis, or abdominal or pelvic surgery.
In addition to what is stated above, infertility may also be an effect of environmental and lifestyle factors including smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and obesity. Furthermore, exposure to pollutants and toxic elements can affect the eggs and sperm and may result in poor quality and a decrease in numbers that leads to infertility.
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The main infertility symptoms is trouble getting pregnant. According to Mayo Clinic, there may be no other obvious signs of infertility aside from difficulty to conceive.
However, there are some cases where the signs of infertility in women include irregular or absent menstrual periods. While the signs of infertility in men can be linked to hormonal problems. You may notice changes in hair growth or sexual function. Those are some of the signs of infertility in women and men.
Infertility testing for women
How is female infertility diagnosed? There is different infertility testing for women to rule out possible reasons why there’s difficulty in conceiving. The following are some of the tests that can help diagnose infertility in women:
It is done to check hormone levels.
Doing this helps check structural problems or other signs of infertility.
A thin, lighted tube is inserted into the vagina to examine the uterus.
An ultrasound wand is inserted into the vagina to check for any reproductive system problems.
A laparoscope or a thin tube with a camera is inserted into a small abdominal incision to identify problems such as uterine fibroids, scar tissue, or endometriosis.
Saline son hysterogram (SIS)
The uterus will be filled with sterilized salt water and the doctor will conduct a transvaginal ultrasound. This way, it will be easier to see inside the uterus if the uterus is filled with saline water.
A dye is injected into the body. X-rays capture how the injectable dye travels through the fallopian tube to look for any blockages.
Infertility testing for men
To rule out male fertility problems a semen analysis, blood test, or scrotal ultrasound can be done. Semen analysis checks problems with sperm. Through this test, the healthcare provider will know if the patient has a low sperm count or the sperm has poor mobility. Meanwhile, a blood test checks the hormone levels. A genetic blood test can be done to look for chromosomal abnormalities.
Lastly, a scrotal ultrasound identifies varicoceles or other problems in the testicles.
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Both male and female infertility can be treated by medications or surgery. There are fertility drugs that can help change the hormone levels of a woman to stimulate ovulation. Likewise, there are medications that can raise testosterone or other hormone levels to rule out male infertility.
Aside from that, there are also medicines for erectile dysfunction. Moreover, surgery may also be performed to open blocked fallopian tubes and remove uterine fibroids or polyps. There’s also surgical treatment for endometriosis.
On the other hand, surgery can also be done on men to open tube blockages that store and carry sperm.
Folic acid for infertility
Taking folic acid for infertility has a powerful effect on women, according to The Fertility Institute. Folic acid helps prevent early pregnancy defects. It also helps with cell metabolism throughout the body. Taking folic acid supplements helps in producing better quality embryos and a greater chance of conceiving.
Folic acid also has a powerful effect on men when it comes to fertility. A study mentioned in an article published by The Fertility Institute stated that folic acid can improve the quality of sperm and lower the risk of sperm abnormalities.
Other fertility treatment options
Aside from medication and surgery, there are more fertility treatment options that you may consider to have a baby. First, is the intrauterine insemination. It is a process where a long, thin tube is inserted through your vagina and the sperm is placed directly into the uterus.
The next one is in vitro fertilization (IVF). The eggs are harvested at the end of the stimulation. Then, the sperm and eggs are put together in a lab dish. Once the eggs are fertilized by the sperm, then your healthcare provider will transfer one of the fertilized eggs into the uterus.
Furthermore, you can also choose third-party assisted reproductive technology (ART) to have a baby. In this process, couples may use donor eggs, donor sperm, or donor embryos. Depending on what is needed. You may carry the donor embryos or opt to have a gestational carrier or surrogate.
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