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fertility basics

Infertility - Causes and Risks

  • 4.8 (5 Votes)
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Learn about infertility and causes of infertility in both men and women, along with the risks involved in infertility and how to diagnose the infertility. We also acquaint you with the treatments available for infertility in this article.

There has been a lot of buzz in the recent years about the decreasing fertility rates in men and the potential issues it can pose. It has been seen that infertility affects one in six men thus, making it a common problem for those of reproductive age. The topic of infertility has always been linked with woman that is traditionally viewed as 'woman's issue' and hardly any talk about male infertility.

In this article, infertility along with its causes, risks and treatments helps in awakening about the much-talked topic.

What is Infertility?

For those who are not accustomed to the term, it implies the inability to become pregnant even after regular unprotected sex. It also means the biological inability of individual to contribute in conception or the female partner who couldn't complete the pregnancy to full term.

Many cases of infertility are treatable. It might have single cause in any of the partner or it can be combinations of factors.  

What are the causes of Infertility in women?

There are many possible reasons of infertility amongst females. Some of them are:

1- Ovulation Disorders: The most common cause of infertility among women is infertility. In some of the cases the woman never releases eggs while in other females does not release eggs in some cycles.
Infertility
It can be due to premature ovarian failure, PCOS, hyperprolactinemia, poor egg quality, underactive thyroid gland, overactive thyroid gland or chronic conditions like HIV or cancer.

2- Issue with uterus or fallopian tubes: The egg moves to uterus (where fertilized egg grows) from ovary. If woman has any problem in uterus or fallopian tubes then there might be chances of unable to conceive. It can be due to pelvic surgery, submucosal fibroids, endometriosis and earlier sterilization treatment.

3- Medications: Medicines such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or chemotherapy can affect the fertility.

4- Radiotherapy:If radiation therapy was done near woman's reproductive organs then there are chances of fertility issues.

Illegal Drugs: They equally contribute in infertility.    
 

Male Infertility Causes

Below are the common causes of infertility in men:

1- Semen: The 75% cases of male’s infertility are due to abnormal semen. It can be due to low sperm count, low sperm mobility, no sperm during ejaculation or abnormal sperm.

2- Causes of abnormal semen could be: The possible causes can be testicular surgery, testicular cancer and testicular infection. Overheating of testicles in hot tubs, frequent saunas can affect. Ejaculation disorder, due to varicocele, genetic abnormality, hypogonadism, cystic fibrosis, radiotherapy, medications and use of illegal drugs.  

What are the risks involved in Infertility?

There are several factors that can increase the risk of infertility in both male and female.

1- Age: Woman after 30 starts dropping fertility and continues to do so. While a 50 year old man is less fertile than a man in 20.
Infertility causes

2- Smoking: Similar for both male and female infertility cause. It can also undermine the fertility treatment.

3- Alcohol consumption: A woman has more chances of getting affected if she consumes alcohol. It may lower male fertility but is risky for those men who already have low sperm count.

4- Obesity or overweight: One of the most common causes of female infertility. An obese man has high risk of having abnormal sperm.

5- Eating disorders

6- Over exercising or not exercising

7- Sexually transmitted infections

8- Exposed to chemicals

9- Mental stress

How to diagnose infertility?

After 12 months of trying, if there is no pregnancy then below are the tests for both men and women to diagnose the real reason of infertility:

Women-

1- General physical exam

2- Blood test

3- Hysterosalpingography

4- Laparoscopy

5- Genetic testing

6- Ovarian reserve testing

7- Pelvic ultrasound

8- Chlamydia test

9- Thyroid function test

Men-

1- General physical exam
Infertility causes

2- Semen analysis

3- Blood test

4- Ultrasound test

5- Chlamydia test
 

Infertility Treatments

Fertility treatments for men are:

1- Varicocele- surgical removes of varicose vein.

2- Blockage of the ejaculatory duct- extracting sperm directly from testicles and then injected into an egg in laboratory.

3- Medications for erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation can help in general sexual issues.

4- Epididymal blockage- Epididmysis can be surgically repaired if blocked.

Fertility treatments for women are:

1- Fallopian tube surgery

2- Laparoscopic surgery

3- Intrauterine insemination

4- IVF technology

5- ICSI i.e. intracystoplasmic sperm injection

6- Drugs for ovulation disorders include- Clomiphene for encouraging ovulation in woman who don't ovulate regularly or who hasn't ovulated at all because of PCOS or other issue. Metformin- for those females who didn't respond to Clomiphene. And there are other medicines as well.
 

Hope this article helped you with your queries on infertility. Follow Elawoman blog to get regular updates on fertility health and treatments.

Dr. R K Sharma

About The Author

Reproductive Endocrinologist, Hysteroscopic Surgeon Dr. R K Sharma
Delhi

Dr. R K Sharma has completed MBBS and MD in Obstetrics and Gynecology from Pune University in 1981 and 1989 respectively. Dr. R K Sharma is one of the pioneers in the field of IVF treatment in India. He specializes in IUI, IVF, Embryo transfer and Hysteroscopy procedures. He is also a member of Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology Societies of India (FOGSI). Dr. R K Sharma is presently practicing at Primus Super Specialty Hospital, Chanakyapuri, Delhi. To know more, visit elawoman.com

SOURCES AND REFERENCES:

  1. How to prepare for your first fertility clinic fertility, Elawoman - 2017
  2. Useful tips should follow after unprotected sex unprotected sex, Elawoman - 2017
  3. Is iui the best fertility treatment for you low sperm, Elawoman - 2017
  4. Noticeable sign of infertility in women female infertility, Elawoman - 2017

5 Comments

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Joe Avoy

I have copper IUD inside my vagina, is it going to affect my fertility in the future?

Oct. 13, 2018, 9:28 a.m. 5.0

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Dharmendra Bill

I neither drink nor smoke but still, my sperm count is low. What should I do to fix this?

Sept. 24, 2018, 11:25 a.m. 4.5

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Anshika Pandey

Thanks for sharing the infertility causes and risks in this detailed manner. Many couples will get a lot of help from the information in the blog, thus improving the infertility levels with proper care and precautions.

May 31, 2018, 4:39 p.m. 5.0

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Om Vikas

This makes me think twice about not being able to have a baby in a year.

May 25, 2018, 3:52 p.m. 4.5

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Benny Corner

It's a logical point to know about fertility either you want to conceive or not. Everyone should read this. Thanks for sharing this Ela.

Dec. 12, 2017, 10:23 a.m. 5.0

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