Infertility is the inability of couples to conceive after engaging in an unprotected sex. It may not be best to describe a case as infertility until it clocks 12 months.
Infertility may be due to a single cause in either a man or a woman or a combination of factors that may prevent a pregnancy from occurring or continuing.
Fortunately, there are many safe and effective therapies for treating infertility. These treatments significantly improve the chances of becoming pregnant.
To become pregnant, the complex processes of ovulation and fertilization need to work.
Infertility can be present from birth (congenital) or something can go wrong
along the way that results to infertility.
Infertility can involve on or both partners in general.
In about one-third of cases, the cause of infertility involves only the male
In about one- third of cases, the cause of infertility involves only the female
In the remaining cases, the cause of infertility involves both the male and the female or no cause can be identified.
Causes of female infertility
Ovulation disorder– This is a usual culprit. Tracking ovulation calender and the non presence of ovulation allegedly, puts a woman at risk of being infertile. The woman’s ovaries stop working before she is 40.
PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) – the woman’s ovaries function abnormally. She also has abnormally high levels of androgen.
Poor egg quality – eggs that are damaged or develop genetic abnormalities cannot sustain a pregnancy. The older a woman is the higher the risk.
Submucosal fibroids – benign or non-cancerous tumors found in the muscular wall of the uterus, occurring in 30% to 40% of women of childbearing age. They may interfere with implantation. They can also block the fallopian tube, preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg. Large submucosal uterine fibroids may make the uterus’ cavity bigger, increasing the distance the sperm has to travel.
Fallopian tube damage or blockage
Endometriosis – cells that are normally found within the lining of the uterus start growing elsewhere in the body.
Previous sterilization treatment – if a woman chose to have her fallopian tubes blocked. It is possible to reverse this process, but the chances of becoming fertile again are not high
Causes of male infertility
Abnormal sperm production or functions such as health problems like diabetes can hinder conception from taken place.
Prior surgeries on the testicles-
Ejaculation disorders – for some men it may be difficult to ejaculate properly. Men with retrograde ejaculation ejaculate semen into the bladder. If the ejaculatory ducts are blocked or obstructed the man may have a problem ejaculating appropriately.
Testicular infection from hotness- Hot tubs, very hot baths, or working in extremely hot environments can raise the temperature of the testicles. Tight clothing may have the same effect on some people.
Problems with the delivery of sperm- when the quality of semen released is not healthy enough to fertilise an egg, the tendency conception will take place is minimal.
Low sperm count (low concentration) – the man ejaculates a lower number of sperm. Sperm concentration should be 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen. If the count is under 10 million there is a low sperm concentration (subfertility).
No sperm – when the man ejaculates there is no sperm in the semen.
Low sperm mobility (motility) – the sperm cannot “swim” as well as it should.
Abnormal sperm – perhaps the sperm has an unusual shape, making it more difficult to move and fertilize an egg.
Damage related to cancer and its treatment.
Genetic abnormality- X and Y chromosome is present in everyman. If he has two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome (Klinefelter’s syndrome) there will be an abnormal development of the testicles, low testosterone, and a low sperm count (sometimes no sperm at all).
Experts are of the opinion, that when pregnancy fails to occur within one year, they should visit a gynecologists. diagnosing infertility obviously will take place in medical laboratory whereby, series of tests would be carried out either to commence treatment,or rule aside any case of infertility.
It’s always advisable to seek the attention of your GP (general practitioner) early enough especially, especially if they are older (women over 35) a s fertility testing can sometimes take a long time, and female fertility starts to drop when a woman is in her thirties.
A GP can give the patient advice and carry out some preliminary assessments. As it takes two to make a baby it is better for both the male and female to see the doctor together.
Before undergoing testing for fertility it is important that the couple be committed. The doctor will need to know what the patients’ sexual habits are, and may make recommendations regarding them. Tests and trials might extend over a long period. Even after thorough testing, no specific cause is ever found for 30% of infertility cases.
Diagnosing infertility in Men:
- General physical exam – the doctor will ask the man about his medical history, medications, and sexual habits. The physician will also carry out an examination of his genitals. The testicles will be checked for lumps or deformities, while the shape and structure of the penis will be examined for any abnormalities.
- Semen analysis – the doctor may ask for some specimens of semen. They will be analyzed in a laboratory for sperm concentration, motility, color, quality, infections and whether any blood is present. As sperm counts can fluctuate, the man may have to produce more samples.
- Blood test – the lab will test for several things, including the man’s level of testosterone and other male hormones.
- Ultrasound test – the doctor will determine whether there is any ejaculatory duct obstruction, retrograde ejaculation, or other abnormality.
- Chlamydia test – if the man is found to have Chlamydia, which can affect fertility, he will be prescribed antibiotics to treat it.
- General physical exam – the doctor will ask the woman about her medical history, medications, menstruation cycle, and sexual habits. She will also undergo a gynecological examination.
- Blood test – several things will be checked, for example, whether hormone levels are correct and whether the woman is ovulating (progesterone test).
Diagnosing infertility in Female:
Ovarian reserve testing – this is done to find out how effective the eggs are after ovulation.
Genetic testing – this is to find out whether a genetic abnormality is interfering with the woman’s fertility.
Pelvic ultrasound – high frequency sound waves create an image of an organ in the body, which in this case is the woman’s uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
Chlamydia test – if the woman is found to have Chlamydia, which can affect fertility, she will be prescribed antibiotics to treat it.
Thyroid function test – according to the National Health Service (UK) between 1.3% and 5.1% of infertile women have an abnormal thyroid.
Hysterosalpingography – fluid is injected into the woman’s uterus which shows up in X-ray pictures. X-rays are taken to determine whether the fluid travels properly out of the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. If the doctor identifies any problems, such as a blockage, surgery may need to be performed.