Infertility refers to an inability to conceive a child despite unprotected intercourse for a period of at least 12 months. Infertility is a frequently reported issue that may be associated with trivial lifestyle or dietary irregularities requiring modifications or it may also be associated with strong medical, hormonal or surgical abnormalities that require treatment. It is very important to understand the primary cause of infertility in order to know the proper way to treat the root cause. Infertility can expensive enough without wasting time and money on improper treatments.
Why is it important to know the cause(s) of infertility?
It is very important to know the nature and severity of defect that is interfering with conception in order to manage or treat infertility effectively. Moreover, your choices of fertility treatment depend on the cause of infertility. With advancing age, hormonal and structural changes in the female body affect the ability of a woman to become pregnant. However, having difficulty in conception is different from being infertile. Similarly, as opposed to popular misconception, men can also be the cause of infertility. According to research statistics, men are responsible for almost 40% cases of infertility.
Some of the main causes of infertility in women include:
- Hormonal irregularities: In order to get pregnant, it is very important to have normal concentration of all the hormones in the body. Abnormalities of hormones like thyroid hormone, prolactin hormone, estrogen or progesterone defects, Cushing syndrome, uncontrolled diabetes and systemic medical problems like kidney and liver may affect the ability of women to become pregnant
- Long standing pelvic infections: Egg is released into fallopian tubes each month on 14th day of ovarian cycle and if intercourse is performed while egg is still in fallopian tubes, the chances of conception are very high; however, in cases of long standing pelvic infections, pelvic surgeries and untreated sexually transmitted infections, the chances of tubal scarring is very high that prolong the conduit of sperm for fertilization. Other conditions include abdominal surgery or pelvic surgery.
- Structural abnormalities of female genital tract: In some cases, genetical or acquired abnormalities of female genital tract like bicornuate uterus, bifid uterus, history of uterine fibroids, cystic ovarian masses and other abnormalities can also lead to infertility.
- Nutritional defects: Dietary irregularities deficiencies or nutritional is one of the most popular cause of infertility in women that is mostly overlooked. Obesity (having a BMI of more than 30) is a risk factor for infertility that leads to hormonal aberrations that may become a cause of infertility. Same is true for anorexic and underweight women
What are some of the main causes of male infertility?
Male infertility refers to abnormalities in the sperm count, morphology or motility that impairs the ability of the sperm to reach the Fallopian tubes or it’s ability to successfully fertilize an egg. Defects of the male genital tract include:
- Recurrent infection of the male genital organs including the epididymis, vas deferens, testicles or glands
- History of trauma or surgery involving male the genital tract
- Exposure to radiation, X-rays, environmental or occupational toxins likes pesticides, fertilizers and other industrial toxins.
- Physical damage caused by cancer, uncontrolled medical illnesses like diabetes, uremia or abnormalities of the endocrine glands that are responsible for release of hormones necessary for reproduction.
- Genetic or acquired defects like undescended testicles, obesity, or penile issues may lead to infertility in men.
- Altered biochemical environment of the body that alters the secretion of seminal glands or prostate gland or affects the metabolic activity of the sperm also causes infertility and includes excessive alcohol intake, tobacco or illicit drug consumption and intravenous drug abuse.
Speak to your healthcare provider if you are having difficulty in getting pregnant or impregnating your partner for early detection and timely treatment.