fertility basics

Fertility infertility - Signs, Causes, Natural remedies of Fertility Disorders

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Medically Reviewed by Dr. Deepika Tiwari - MS, MBBS on 28 May 2019 - Written by Dr. Sunil Eshwar - MD, MBBS, DNB - Grammatically Approved by Dr. Kavita Jaggi Agrawal - MS, MBBS

Female infertility is on the rise in the recent times. Some of the female infertility causes include blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, ovulation disorders, pelvic adhesions, and smoking. Fertility boosters are natural remedies such as limit caffeine intake, avoid alcohol, exercise moderately and sleep enough.

There are many reasons for infertility and the good news is that most of them can be treated with medical intervention. Worldwide about five percent of couples have an issue with fertility. Many more couples, around 12 to 28 percent experience involuntary childlessness for at least one year. 20 to 35 percent are due to female infertility while 20 to 30 percent of infertility cases are due to male infertility and 25 to 40 percent are due to combined problems in both the partners. In 10 to 20 percent of cases, no cause is found. Female infertility is most commonly due to ovulation related problems which generally manifest themselves through absent or sparse menstrual periods. While the most common cause of male infertility is due to deficiencies in the semen, semen quality is used as a surrogate measure of male fertility. (1)

Female fertility normally peaks at the age of 24 years and starts diminishing after 30 years. A female is most fertile within 24 hours of ovulation and the male fertility usually peaks at the age 25 years and starts declining after 40 years of age. A couple that tries unsuccessfully to have a child, after a certain period of time is known as subfertile, meaning less fertile than a typical couple. Both subfertility and infertility are defined as the inability to conceive after a certain period of time, so often the two terms overlap.

Common Signs of Infertility in Women

The main symptom of infertility is an unsuccessful pregnancy. Sometimes, an infertile woman may experience changes in the menstrual cycle and ovulation may be a symptom of another disease prevalent due to infertility. (2) Symptoms include:

  • Abnormal periods when a menstrual cycle may be heavier or too long or lighter than usual. The number of days between each period tends to vary each month.
  • No periods at all or when periods suddenly stop. Factors like depression, stress or heavy workouts may cause a period to temporarily disappear.
  • Painful periods accompanied by back pain, pelvic pain, and cramping.
  • Symptoms of hormone fluctuations can indicate potential issues of infertility. Talk to a doctor if there are skin issues, reduced sex drive, facial hair growth, thinning hair, and excessive weight gain.
  • Some women may experience pain during sexual intercourse. Pain during sex could be related to hormone issues, endometriosis, or to other underlying conditions that could also be contributing to infertility.

Causes of Infertility

Infertility is caused because of the following reasons (3):

1. Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes:

Infertility may be caused by blocked or damaged fallopian tube/s often caused by inflammation of the fallopian tube (salpingitis) or infections such as chlamydia. This may be a result of pelvic inflammatory disease, which is usually caused by a sexually transmitted infection, endometriosis or adhesion. (4)

2. Ovulation disorders:

Around one-fourth of female infertility is caused by ovulation problems. Ovulation disorder may occur when eggs do not mature during the menstrual cycle when they are not released from the ovaries. This could be due to ovarian failure or insufficient progestin. (5)

3. Uterine or cervical causes:

Uterine or cervical causes can impact fertility significantly by interfering with implantation or increasing the likelihood of a miscarriage. The uterine problem occurs when benign polyps or tumors (fibroids) are common in the uterus, or when there are uterine abnormalities such as an abnormally shaped uterus and cervical stenosis (narrowing of the cervix). (6)

4. Primary ovarian insufficiency (early menopause):

When the ovaries stop working and menstruation ends before the age of 40, it is known as primary ovarian insufficiency. Certain factors such as immune system diseases, genetic conditions like Turner syndrome or carriers of Fragile X syndrome, chemotherapy or radiation treatment and smoking can be associated with primary ovarian insufficiency.

5. Pelvic adhesions:

Pelvic adhesions occur when there are bands of scar tissue that bind organs after pelvic infection, abdominal surgery, pelvic surgery, and appendicitis. (7)

6. Smoking:

Smoking significantly increases infertility in both men and women. Smoking, during or before pregnancy, increases the chance of miscarriage, birth defects, and pregnancy loss. Passive smoking is also associated with low fertility rates. (8)

7. Other causes include:

Cancer particularly female reproductive cancers are known to severely impair female fertility. Medical conditions associated with an absence of menstruation (amenorrhea), delayed puberty, poorly controlled diabetes and autoimmune diseases such as lupus, can affect a woman's fertility. 

Natural Remedies to Boost Fertility

Some conditions mentioned above may require medical treatment to restore fertility, while some may require remedies, which includes the following:

1. Eat food rich in antioxidants

Food rich in antioxidants like zinc and folate may improve fertility for both men and women. According to a study, it was found that 60 couples who underwent IVF treatment (In-vitro Fertilization) taking an antioxidant supplement had 23 percent greater chances of conception. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains are loaded with antioxidants like vitamins C and E, folate, beta-carotene and lutein.

2. Quit smoking

Smoking decreases the rate of fertility or increases the risk of miscarriage. Smoking has also been linked to increasing the risk of cancer, heart disease, emphysema (damage of air sacs in the lungs), and a number of other health problems. Cigarette contains nicotine and other harmful chemicals that are known to affect lungs including the reproductive system. Smoking is associated with fertility problems like blocked fallopian tubes, increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, cervical cancer and miscarriage.

3. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol may impair a woman’s ability to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy. Consumption of alcohol or use of recreational drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine increases inflammation and reduces immune function. Women who drink alcohol have an increased risk of ovulation disorders and endometriosis. (9)

4. Limit caffeine

Women trying to conceive should reduce their caffeine intake. Caffeine can cause hormonal imbalances, miscarriage, mineral deficiencies, and dehydration. Excessive consumption has been shown to interfere with fertility; intake of more than 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day may reduce fertility by 28 percent. Women who consume over 500 mg of caffeine daily may require 9.5 months longer to get pregnant.

5. Exercise moderately

Regular exercise is important for overcoming any kind of health issues. However, exercising intensely can affect fertility to some extent. While weight loss improves fertility, having body fat below 15 to18 percent can interfere with the ovulation cycle (no ovulation). Engaging in burst and weight training is the best way to exercise to effectively balance hormones. (10) Exercising regularly and moderately also promotes a healthy waistline, which increases the chances of conceiving. 

6. Getting enough sleep

Sleep is vital for health and for the production of hormones. According to a study, it is shown that women with low serotonin and melatonin levels have a shorter luteal phase (the period between ovulation and menstruation cycle) and consequently have a lower chance of conceiving. Lack of sleep impairs the body’s ability to regulate adrenaline, insulin and cortisol making conception very difficult. A completely dark environment while sleeping may improve melatonin levels.

These natural remedies for infertility in females are healthy and natural. Like other medical conditions, nowadays there are treatments available for those experiencing infertility problems. More than 20 percent of couples undergoing infertility treatments are likely to conceive, and technologies such as IVF (In vitro Fertilization) have brought about many pregnancies.

Follow Elawoman blog to receive the latest updates on Fertility. For assistance in determining which fertility doctors may have the expertise to help, you can consult Elawoman. Call us at +917899912611.

Written by

Dr. Sunil Eshwar

MD, MBBS, DNB
Infertility Specialist, IVF Specialist
Bangalore

Dr. Sunil Eshwar is an Infertility specialist who is presently specializing in laparoscopic surgery, high-risk pregnancies and infertility treatments such as IVF and IUI. Dr. Sunil Eshwar completed his MBBS from Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute in 2000 and MD from Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) in 2004. Later, he completed DNB from National Board of Examination in 2006. Dr. Sunil Eshwar is currently practicing at Apollo Fertility, Brookfield, Bangalore. For more information about Dr. Sunil Eshwar, visit elawoman.com

 

SOURCES AND REFERENCES:

  1. ^ Infertility - Wikipedia En.wikipedia.org, 28 May 2019
  2. ^ Common Signs of Infertility in Women - Infertility Texas Infertilitytexas.com, 28 May 2019
  3. ^ Infertility Causes - Cleveland Clinic My.clevelandclinic.org, 28 May 2019
  4. ^ What You Should Know About Blocked Fallopian Tubes - Healthline Healthline.com, 28 May 2019
  5. ^ Ovulation Disorders - NCBI Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 28 May 2019
  6. ^ Uterine and Cervical Causes - Human Illnesses Humanillnesses.com, 28 May 2019
  7. ^ Pelvic Adhesions Impact on Fertility - Resolve Resolve.org, 28 May 2019
  8. ^ Smoking and infertility - Fertility and Strerility Fertstert.org, 28 May 2019
  9. ^ Is Alcoholharming Your Fertility - Drinkaware Drinkaware.co.uk, 28 May 2019
  10. ^ The Role of Exercise in Improving Fertility - Your Fertility Yourfertility.org.au, 28 May 2019
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6 Comments

Yasmeen Seikh

Having green tea and proteinous food can influence fertility. Good article indeed!

Oct. 11, 2018, 9:51 p.m. 4.5

Jolly Turnur

Thanks for sharing this, I was planning to change my diet as I want to conceive.

Aug. 15, 2018, 2:11 p.m. 4.5

Nadira Azam

I prefer having a long hot bath and meditation to clear my head and boost blood circulation.

April 12, 2018, 1:09 p.m. 5.0

Ericka Grigsby

Each woman is born with millions of immature eggs that wait to be released, normally one at a time, every month. A poor diet can disturb ovulation and can prevent pregnancy. We must eat healthy and nutritious food for the proper growth and development of eggs.

Aug. 21, 2017, 1:53 p.m. 4.5

Sakshi Agarwal

Ultrasound can detect uterine abnormalities such as fibroids and polyps, distal fallopian tube occlusion and ovarian abnormalities including ovarian cysts. These are some of the medical issues that cause infertility in women.

Aug. 21, 2017, 1:51 p.m. 4.5

Suganya Banerjee

These natural remedies are actually wonderful. I tried few of them and the results were amazing. I will share this blog to others too who are looking for natural solutions to infertility problems.

Aug. 21, 2017, 1:09 p.m. 4.5

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