Infertility Causes: Types, Risk Factors, Diagnosis And Treatment

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What is infertility?

If a couple tries but fails to conceive within a year, healthcare providers deem them infertile. When a woman reaches the age of 35, the time spent attempting to conceive drops to six months, and she is diagnosed with infertility. Women above the age of 40 should be evaluated right away. Miscarriage or inability to carry a kid to term are not considered infertility.

What causes infertility

Causes of infertility vary:

  • 1 in 3 infertile women has a problem with the female reproductive system.
  • 1 in 3 infertile men has a problem with the male reproductive system.
  • 1 in 3 couples has a problem that affects both of them or an undetermined issue.

How common is infertility?

One out of every ten women between the ages of 15 and 44 has difficulty conceiving.

Pregnant women who have issues may lose their babies:

Prior to the twenty-first week of pregnancy (miscarriage).
After the 20th week of pregnancy, there are a few things to keep in mind (stillbirth).

What are the types of infertility?

Types of infertility include:

Primary infertility occurs when a woman has never been pregnant and has been unable to conceive after a year of not using birth control.
Secondary infertility occurs when a woman is unable to become pregnant after at least one successful pregnancy.

These are risk factors for infertility in all genders

  • Age (over age 35 for women or over 40 for men).
  • Diabetes.
  • Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
  • Excessive alcohol use.
  • Exposure to environmental toxins, such as lead and pesticides.
  • Over-exercising.
  • Radiation therapy or other cancer treatments.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • Smoking.
  • Stress.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Weight problems (obesity or underweight).

These are the risk factors for female infertility

  • Abnormal menstruation.
  • Blocked fallopian tubes.
  • Celiac disease.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Past ectopic (tubal) pregnancy.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Pituitary gland disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), ovarian cysts and primary ovarian insufficiency.
  • Sickle cell anaemia.
  • Uterine problems, including endometriosis, uterine fibroids and uterine polyps.
  • Thyroid disease.

These are risk factors for male infertility

These factors can cause male infertility:

  • Enlarged veins in the scrotum, the sac that holds the testicles.
  • Genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis.
  • High heat exposure to testicles from tight clothing or frequent use of hot tubs and saunas.
  • Injury to the scrotum or testicles.
  • Low sperm count or low testosterone.
  • Misuse of anabolic steroids.
  • Premature ejaculation or retrograde ejaculation (semen flows back into the bladder).
  • Testicular cancer and treatments.
  • Undescended testicles.

How is female infertility diagnosed?

Your doctor may ask you to keep track of ovulation symptoms like basal body temperature and cervical mucus. You can also use an ovulation kit at home.

These tests can also aid in the diagnosis or exclusion of a female reproductive issue:

A pelvic exam, including a Pap smear, will be performed by your provider to screen for structural abnormalities or signs of disease.
A blood test can be used to determine the levels of hormones, particularly thyroid hormones.
Transvaginal ultrasound: Your doctor uses an ultrasound wand to look for abnormalities with your reproductive system inside your vagina.
Hysteroscopy: A thin, lighted tube (hysteroscope) is inserted into the vaginal canal to inspect the uterus.                        X-rays record an injected dye as it moves through the fallopian tubes during a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). This test looks for any obstructions.
A laparoscope (a thin tube with a camera) is inserted into a small abdominal incision by your provider. Endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and scar tissue can all be detected during a female pelvic laparoscopy.

How is male infertility diagnosed?

These tests can aid in the diagnosis or exclusion of a male reproductive issue:

Semen analysis: This test looks for sperm issues like low sperm count and poor motility. Some men require a needle biopsy to retrieve and test sperm from their testicles. For the vast majority of men, this is the only test that will be required during the course of their infertility treatment.
Testosterone, thyroid, and other hormone levels can all be checked with a blood test. Chromosomal abnormalities are checked for in genetic blood tests.
Scrotal ultrasound: A scrotal ultrasound can detect varicoceles or other testicular issues.

When should you seek infertility treatment?

If a woman under the age of 35 hasn’t become pregnant after a year of trying, she should consult a doctor. If you’re over 35, you should seek help sooner (after six months of trying). With age, a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant drop. A 30-year-old woman’s fertility is half that of a 20-year-old woman.

If you have a risk factor that affects fertility, you should seek care as soon as possible, regardless of gender.

What are the options for treating female infertility?

Infertility treatments include:

Fertility medicines alter hormone levels in order to trigger ovulation.
Surgery can be used to unblock obstructed fallopian tubes as well as remove uterine fibroids and polyps. Endometriosis surgery doubles a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant.

Options for treating male infertility

  • Medications: Medications can raise testosterone or other hormone levels. There are also drugs for erectile dysfunction.
  • Surgery: Some men need surgery to open blockages in the tubes that store and carry sperm. Varicocele surgery can make sperm healthier and can improve the odds of conception.

What are fertility treatment options for all genders?

Some couples need more help conceiving. To increase pregnancy odds, a woman may first take medications to stimulate ovulation before trying one of these options:

  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI): A healthcare provider uses a long, thin tube to place sperm directly into the uterus.
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF): IVF is a type of assisted reproductive technology (ART). It involves harvesting the eggs at the end of the stimulation and placing sperm and eggs together in a lab dish. The sperm fertilizes the eggs. A provider transfers one of the fertilized eggs (embryo) into the uterus.
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): This procedure is similar to IVF. An embryologist (highly specialized lab technician) directly injects a single sperm into each of the harvested eggs and then a provider transfers an embryo into the uterus.
  • Third-party ART: Couples may use donor eggs, donor sperm or donor embryos. Some couples need a gestational carrier or surrogate. This person agrees to carry and give birth to your baby.

How to prevent infertility

Men and women can take these steps to protect their fertility, especially while trying to conceive:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke, misuse drugs or drink excessively.
  • Get treated for STDs.
  • Limit exposure to toxins.
  • Stay physically active, but don’t overdo exercise.

What is the prognosis for those who are infertile?

After receiving fertility treatments, approximately 9 out of 10 couples become pregnant. The success rate varies based on the cause of infertility, the age of the couple, and other factors. Generally speaking:

Each IUI procedure has a 20% success rate.
One in every two women under the age of 35 uses ART to conceive. For women in their early to mid-40s, the figure reduces to 1 in 30 (3%).

Conclusion

Infertility presents numerous obstacles. It might have an impact on your relationships and emotional wellness. Infertility treatments can also be expensive, putting a burden on your finances. Your healthcare practitioner can help you figure out what’s causing your infertility. This first stage assists in determining the appropriate treatment to assist you in successfully increasing your family. Most couples eventually become pregnant, but some choose to adopt. Your provider can go over your alternatives with you.

 

 

 

 

 


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Gbenga Elebiyo

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