When your effort to conceive a child is not helpful, you decide to see an expert at an infertility centre in or around your local town/city. After having an interaction with you, knowing your medical history, and going through the reports of a few recommended tests, your doctor confirms that you are infertile. And you need medical intervention to conceive a child. Here is what you should know about infertility.
Infertility – What It Is
Infertility is a medical condition characterised by the inability of a couple to conceive after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse. It affects approximately 15% of couples globally, with both men and women being equally affected. In this article, we’ll discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatments of infertility.
In most cases, infertility doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms. However, some underlying conditions that cause infertility can lead to symptoms such as:
- Irregular menstrual cycles: Women with irregular menstrual cycles or those who don’t ovulate regularly may have difficulty conceiving.
- Painful periods: Painful periods, also known as dysmenorrhea, can be a sign of endometriosis, a condition that can cause infertility.
- Abnormal semen analysis: Men with infertility may have abnormal semen analysis, including low sperm count, poor sperm motility, and abnormal sperm morphology.
- Hormonal imbalances: Hormonal imbalances in both men and women can cause infertility. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) often have hormonal imbalances that can lead to irregular periods and difficulty conceiving.
Causes of Infertility
Infertility can be caused by several factors, including:
- Ovulation disorders: Ovulation disorders are the most common cause of female infertility. These disorders can include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), premature ovarian failure, and hypothalamic dysfunction.
- Fallopian tube damage: Fallopian tube damage or blockage can prevent the egg from travelling to the uterus, leading to infertility. This can be caused by pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, or surgery in the pelvic area.
- Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing infertility.
- Male factors: Male infertility can be caused by low sperm count, poor sperm motility, abnormal sperm morphology, or a blockage in the male reproductive system.
- Age: Women’s fertility declines as they age, with the most significant decline occurring after age 35.
The treatment of infertility depends on the underlying cause. Some treatment options include:
- Medications: Medications can be used to treat ovulation disorders in women or hormonal imbalances in both men and women.
- Surgery: Surgery can be used to treat blockages in the fallopian tubes or remove endometriosis.
- Assisted reproductive technologies (ART): ART includes various techniques that help couples conceive, including intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilisation (IVF), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
- Donor eggs or sperm: Donor eggs or sperm can be used if one partner has a genetic condition or if there are severe male infertility issues.
- Adoption: Adoption is an option for couples who are unable to conceive naturally or with medical intervention.
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Prevention of Infertility:
While some infertility factors cannot be prevented, there are some steps that couples can take to increase their chances of conceiving:
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or underweight can affect fertility, so maintaining a healthy weight is essential.
- Quit smoking: Smoking can affect both male and female fertility.
- Reduce alcohol consumption: Drinking alcohol can also reduce fertility in both men and women.
- Manage stress: Stress can interfere with ovulation and sperm production, so managing stress is crucial.
- Avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs): STIs can cause damage to the reproductive system, leading to infertility. Using condoms during sexual intercourse can reduce the risk of STIs.
In conclusion, infertility is a common condition that affects many couples globally.