Everything About Infertility

What is Infertility?

The word 'infertility' indicates the natural inability of an individual to contribute to the biological process of conception. In the case of women, an inability to carry a baby to term as a result of pregnancy loss is also referred to as infertility.

There are two types of infertility – the first being 'primary infertility' wherein a couple fail to conceive a child in spite of repeated attempts and the second being 'secondary infertility' wherein a couple are unable have a child after a successful pregnancy. Most people mistake infertility to be a problem related to women alone, since a woman actually nurtures a baby within her womb.

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This, however, is not true. A third of all infertility cases are believed to be connected with women, while one third of the cases are linked with the inability of the male partner to contribute to conception. In the remaining one third of all infertility cases, the problem may lie with both partners or the cause of infertility may not be identified at all.

Infertility Symptoms

The main infertility symptom is the inability of a couple to conceive a child, despite having unprotected intercourse for a period of at least a year. This time span is considered so as to avoid the possibility of having missed the fertile window period of the woman. In addition, every woman’s body reacts differently to pregnancy, with some women taking longer to conceive as compared to others. Repeated miscarriages and still births are indicative of infertility problems in women. Dejection and frustration are the main symptoms triggered by infertility.

Infertility Causes

Infertility causes in men are mainly linked with poor sperm quality, inadequate sperm count and low sperm motility. A man’s inability to obtain or maintain an erection also contributes to infertility as ejaculation does not occur in such cases. In women, a lack of ovulation and poor egg quality are the main causes of infertility.

Structural irregularities related to the ovaries, the uterus, the fallopian tubes and the cervix also cause infertility. Advancing age, an unhealthy lifestyle, stress and hormonal imbalances also cause infertility issues in men and women alike.

Infertility Tests

A sperm analysis is the most popular test for infertility in men as it helps in determining the sperm count, sperm quality and sperm motility rate. This test gives a fairly good idea of the capability of the sperm to fertilise a mature egg, for conception to take place. In women, infertility tests mainly include blood tests to check hormone levels, especially of the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and prolactin. An ultrasound to check the condition of the reproductive organs is also highly recommended.

Infertility Treatment

Infertility treatment depends on the cause of infertility. In most cases, doctors first prescribe medication to deal with deficiencies and to regulate hormone production for the proper functioning of the reproductive tract. Medication for the treatment of infections and diseases, mainly pertaining to the reproductive organs, may also be prescribed. If medication does not prove to be beneficial, procedures such as intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization may be performed, depending on the cause of infertility. In case of abnormalities, corrective surgery may be recommended.

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