What is infertility?
Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (or six months if a woman is 35 or older). Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile.
Pregnancy is the result of a process that has many steps. To get pregnant:24
- A woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation).
- The egg must go through a fallopian tube toward the uterus (womb).
- A man’s sperm must join with (fertilize) the egg along the way.
- The fertilized egg must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation).
Infertility can happen if there are problems with any of these steps.
Is infertility a common problem?
Yes. About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Is infertility just a woman’s problem?
No, infertility is not always a woman’s problem. Both women and men can have problems that cause infertility. About one-third of infertility cases are caused by women’s problems. Another one third of fertility problems are due to the man. The other cases are caused by a mixture of male and female problems or by unknown problems.
Types of Infertility :
- Primary Infertility: When a woman has never achieved conception in her life it is known as Primary Infertility.
- Secondary Infertility: When a woman has given birth to a child in the past but is facing difficulty to conceive again it is called Secondary Infertility.
- Recurrent Miscarriage: When a woman has three recurrent miscarriages despite full precaustions and medcial interventions she is diagnosed as a patient of inferility. Miscarriages are common now a day specially in rural areas but a successive miscariage for two times in a row is very uncommon and may be looked upon as a case of ppossible infertility.
The World Health Organization defines infertility as follows: “ Infertility is the inability to conceive a child. A couple may be considered infertile if, after two years of regular sexual intercourse, without contraception, the woman has not become pregnant (and there is no other reason, such as breastfeeding or postpartum amenorrhoea). Primary infertility is infertility in a couple who have never had a child. Secondary infertility is failure to conceive following a previous pregnancy. Infertility may be caused by infection in the man or woman, but often there is no obvious underlying cause. ”
What are the risk factors of infertility?
In medicine, a risk factor is something that raises the risk of developing a condition, disease or symptom. For example, obese people are more likely to develop diabetes type 2 compared to people of normal weight; therefore, obesity is a risk factor for diabetes type 2.
- Age – a woman’s fertility starts to drop after she is about 32 years old, and continues doing so. A 50-year-old man is usually less fertile than a man in his 20s (male fertility progressiv23ely drops after the age of 40).
- Smoking – smoking significantly increases the risk of infertility in both men and women. Smoking may also undermine the effects of fertility treatment. Even when a woman gets pregnant, if she smokes she has a greater risk of miscarriage.
- Alcohol consumption – a woman’s pregnancy can be seriously affected by any amount of alcohol consumption. Alcohol abuse may lower male fertility. Moderate alcohol consumption has not been shown to lower fertility in most men, but is thought to lower fertility in men who already have a low sperm count.
- Being obese or overweight – in industrialized countries overweight/obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are often found to be the principal causes of female infertility. An overweight man has a higher risk of having abnormal sperm.
- Eating disorders – women who become seriously underweight as a result of an eating disorder may have fertility problems.
- Being vegan – if you are a strict vegan you must make sure your intake of iron, folic acid, zinc and vitamin B-12 are adequate, otherwise your fertility may become affected.
- Over-exercising – a woman who exercises for more than seven hours each week may have ovulation problems.
- Not exercising – leading a sedentary lifestyle is sometimes linked to lower fertility in both men and women.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – chlamydia can damage the fallopian tubes, as well as making the man’s scrotum become inflamed. Some other STIs may also cause infertility.
- Exposure to some chemicals – some pesticides, herbicides, metals (lead) and solvents have been linked to fertility problems in both men and women.
- Mental stress – studies indicate that female ovulation and sperm production may be affected by mental stress. If at least one partner is stressed it is possible that the frequency of sexual intercourse is less, resulting in a lower chance of conception.
What are the causes of infertility?
There are many possible causes of infertility. Unfortunately, in about one-third of cases no cause is ever identified.
Causes of infertility in women
- Ovulation disorders – problems with ovulation are the most common cause of infertility in women, experts say. Ovulation is the monthly release of an egg. In some cases the woman never releases eggs, while in others the woman does not release eggs during come cycles. Ovulation disorders can be due to:
- Premature ovarian failure – the woman’s ovaries stop working before she is 40.
- PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) – the woman’s ovaries function abnormally. She also has abnormally high levels of androgen. About 5% to 10% of women of reproductive age are affected to some degree. Also called Stein-Leventhal syndrome.
- Hyperprolactinemia – if prolactin levels are high and the woman is not pregnant or breastfeeding, it may affect ovulation and fertility.
- Poor egg quality – eggs that are damaged or develop genetic abnormalities cannot sustain a pregnancy. The older a woman is the higher the risk.
- Overactive thyroid gland
- Underactive thyroid gland
- Some chronic conditions, such as AIDS or cancer.
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