Infertility: Causes, Risk and Treatment for Men and Women
Infertility is the inability to conceive naturally, involving both male and female partners. Check out below its causes, risk and treatment.
Male Infertility Causes
- Sperm delivering problems:- It’s caused by sexual problems like premature ejaculation; injured reproductive organs; structural problems like testicular blockage; or genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis.
- Abnormal sperm function or production:- It’s caused by genetic defects, undescended testicles, varicocele (dilated veins in the testes), health problems like diabetes, or infections like HIV or chlamydia.
- Cancer treatments:- Chemotherapy or radiation may diminish sperm production severely.
- Overexposure to specific environmental factors:- Overexposure to radiation and chemicals, alcohol consumption, smoking or specific medications like anabolic steroids can affect fertility. Frequent exposure to heat as in saunas may raise your core body temperature, affecting sperm production.
Female Infertility Causes
- Ovulation disorders:- Hormonal disorders like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and conditions like Hyperprolactinemia (excess of prolactin) can affect ovulation. Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism may affect your menstrual cycle or result in infertility. Injury or tumours, eating disorders and excessive exercise are other factors.
- Cervical or uterine abnormalities:- These include abnormalities with the cervix opening, uterus shape or uterine polyps. Uterine fibroids (noncancerous tumours in your uterine wall) mostly restrict embryo implantation and rarely blocks fallopian tubes.
- Primary ovarian insufficiency:- It occurs when the ovaries stop functioning due to early menopause (before 40). It’s caused by certain genetic conditions like Turner syndrome, immune system disorders, radiation or chemotherapy, and smoking.
- Fallopian tube blockage or damage:- It’s often caused by salpingitis (fallopian tube inflammation) because of pelvic inflammatory disease due to endometriosis, adhesions or sexually transmitted infections.
- Endometriosis:- Growth of endometrial tissue outside your uterus affects the functions of uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
- Pelvic Adhesions:- These are bands of scar tissue which binds organs together after appendicitis, pelvic or abdominal surgery, or pelvic infection.
- Cancer and its treatments:- Select cancers, especially female reproductive cancers, and chemotherapy and radiation treatments can cause infertility.
- Other conditions:- Genetic abnormalities, medical conditions related to amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) or delayed puberty, like celiac disease and autoimmune disorders like lupus, may cause infertility.
- Age:- Men above 40 are often less fertile with higher possibilities of specific medical conditions in offspring like certain cancers. Women’s fertility slowly diminishes with age, mainly in their mid-30s and falls rapidly after 37 due to certain health problems, or the quality and number of eggs.
- Alcohol:- Alcohol raises the risk of birth defects and infertility in women and, reduces sperm count and motility in men.
- Smoking:- Smoking marijuana or tobacco by either partner lowers pregnancy possibilities and treatment benefits. Smoking risks erection and sperm count in men and causes miscarriages in women.
- Exercise issues:- Inadequate exercise causes obesity, risking fertility. Sometimes, frequent strenuous exercise in women who aren’t overweight can cause ovulation disorders.
- Overweight:- Being overweight can higher the risk of infertility in women and low sperm count in men.
- Underweight:- Eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia, or following a restrictive diet or very low calorie can put women at risk of infertility.
- Changing lifestyle factors:- Improving lifestyle factors like increasing intercourse frequency, eliminating harmful substances, discontinuing certain medications and practising regular exercise can help fertility.
- Medications:- Specific medications can promote a man’s sperm count and testicular function, like sperm quality and production.
- Sperm retrieval techniques:- These obtain sperm if ejaculation is difficult or sperms are absent in the ejaculated fluid and, help assisted reproductive techniques for low or abnormal sperm count.
- Surgery:- Surgery may sometimes alter sperm blockage, repair a varicocele and restore fertility.
- Fertility drugs:- These can induce or regulate ovulation. Consult your doctor regarding them.
- Surgery:- Hysteroscopic surgery can treat uterine problems like a uterine septum, endometrial polyps or intrauterine scar tissue.
- Intrauterine Insemination (IUI):- It involves placing healthy sperm directly in your uterus around when your ovary releases eggs for fertilization. IUI timing is coordinated with your fertility medications or normal cycle depending on the infertility causes.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
It’s a fertility treatment of handling egg and sperm.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): The most popular ART, IVF involves retrieving and fertilizing mature eggs with sperm in a petri-dish in a lab and implanting the embryo in your uterus after 3-5 days.