IVF and IUI are oft heard of terms when it comes to Assisted Reproductive Technology, but they are not the only options.
Lifestyle changes and environmental causes have led to an increased number of couples finding it hard to conceive. Accepting and understanding infertility is not easy. However, once you do, you will also realise that there is still hope. The advancements in Reproductive Medicine have made it possible to overcome infertility and have a healthy happy baby.
WHAT IS INFERTILITY?
If a couple has been having frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse for at least a year, and have not yet conceived, then one of them or both is likely to be infertile. The first myth that needs to be busted is that infertility is a woman-issue. Studies have proven that there is a one-third chance that the woman is infertile and a one-third chance that the man is. The last third is allocated to unknown causes for infertility. Either way, the important symptom of infertility is being unable to get pregnant and the first way to a solution is to see a doctor and get tested.
You cannot just look at a person and figure this one out. Sometimes on the outside there may not be any symptoms at all. However, if you having been trying to get pregnant for a year with no success, here are some red-flags to watch out for:
- Hormonal imbalance as indicated by changes in hair growth and sexual function.
- A history of testicular, prostate or sexual problems
- Small, firm testicles
- Testicle pain or swelling
- Inability to maintain an erection
- Issues with ejaculation
- Family History of infertility
- Irregular or absent menstrual cycle.
- Painful or heavy periods
- Being diagnosed with Endometriosis or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Multiple miscarriages
- If aged 35 or more
WHAT INCREASES THE RISK OF INFERTILITY?
There is as much a chance for a man to be infertile as for a woman. In most cases it is an unpreventable medical condition, yet certain external causes can also impact the health of one’s reproductive system. While the external causes are similar for men and women, innate medical conditions that lead to infertility vary between the two sexes.
Risk factors common to men and women:
- Excessive smoking and drinking.
- Exposure to harsh chemicals that when absorbed reduces the function of the reproductive system.
- Being overweight and leading a sedentary lifestyle increases the chances of infertility in women. Obesity can lead to reduced sperm count in men and improper ovulation in women.
- Undergoing cancer treatment such as chemotherapy.
- Age is a factor when the woman is more than 35 or the man is more than 40.
Medical conditions exclusive to MEN that cause infertility:
- Reduced Sperm Count: Some studies say that a reduced sperm count indicates other health issues such as being overweight. It takes just one sperm to fertilise the egg, yet a decreased sperm count reduces the chances of getting your partner pregnant.
- Lowered Sperm Motility: Sperm Motility refers to the ability of the sperm to move up the female reproductive tract to reach the egg. The slower the sperm, the lesser are its chances of reaching the egg.
- Varicoceles: In this condition veins on the testicles are large and cause them to overheat which can reduce the number or shape of the sperm.
- Undescended Testicle(s): The testicles are the male sex organ that produces sperms. Testicles are formed in the abdomen and then descend into the scrotum in the fetal stage itself. If one or both of the testicles remain in the abdomen it’s called an undescended testicle. The higher temperature inside the body can affect the production of sperm. This can lead to infertility, if left untreated.
- Retrograde Ejaculation: When the sphincter muscle at the end of the urinary bladder does not contract the ejaculate ends up in the bladder.
- Antispam Antibodies: When the man’s immune system mistakenly produces antibodies that attack the sperm in his semen, it causes infertility.
Medical conditions exclusive to WOMEN that cause infertility:
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): In this condition ovulation is hampered resulting in lowered production of eggs ready for fertilization. Irregular periods is the no. 1 symptom of this condition.
- Hyperprolactinemia: In this condition there is an excessive production of the hormone called prolactin that stimulates milk production. This condition also interferes with the ovulation cycle.
- Thyroid dysfunction: Too much or too little production of the thyroid hormone can also disrupt the menstrual cycle and lead to infertility
- Endometriosis: When the endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus, it affects the function of the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes.
- Fallopian Obstruction: This can be caused by a pelvic infection, a ruptured appendicitis or history of gonorrhea/chlamydia or even a previous abdominal surgery.
- Premature Ovarian Insufficiency: Also called as Premature Menopause, it occurs when a woman’s ovaries fail to produce eggs before she is 40 years of age. Chemotherapy and exposure to certain other types of radiotherapy can cause this condition. But in most instances the cause is unknown.
Being diagnosed with infertility is not the end of the road for a couple trying to conceive. Today there are multiple medical methods to get pregnant, with high enough success rates to give everyone hope. It is essential to be aware of the changes in your body in order to spot possible symptoms of infertility earlier on. Certain medical conditions that one is born with might contribute to infertility, however identifying these conditions at the earliest gives scope for better treatment. Through medicines and surgery, doctors can treat infertility. Through intrauterine insemination, or Assisted Reproductive Technology, couples with infertility issues can conceive. The first step is understanding your condition and being ready to get help. The stigma associated with Fertility Treatments are practically non-existent today. Find the best fertility hospital in the city and start your journey towards parenthood today.