There are several underlying reasons for infertility. Some of these causes lie with the male partner, while others can be traced to the woman.
What is Infertility?
Infertility can be defined as the failure to conceive after 12 months of regular, unprotected intercourse.
Some Reasons for Infertility
Low Sperm Count
When it comes to male infertility, a low sperm count is the biggest reason for infertility. By definition, a low sperm count is defined as having less than 20 million sperm per ml of seminal fluid.
As far as reasons for a low sperm count, there is often no clear cause that doctors can point to. This can be incredibly frustrating for the patient, his partner, and the physician. One of the reasons for low sperm count is a varicocele, which means that the man has varicose veins in his testicles. The swollen vein leads to a higher body temperature in that area, which in turn causes decreased sperm production and less mobility for the sperm that are produced.
Quality of Sperm
A low rate of sperm mobility or sperm that is abnormal in shape are also causes of male infertility. In some cases, poor sperm quality is related to the man's lifestyle choices. If he and his partner are trying to conceive, he needs to be aware that using the following substances can have a negative effect on sperm quality:
- Smoking (Nicotine)
- Some Prescribed Drugs
In addition, environmental factors such as exposure to chemical pesticides and lead, have been shown to be a reason for infertility in males.
When it comes to women, there are a number of reasons why conception may be challenging. There may be problems related to ovulation, lifestyle factors, or physical conditions that are the root of the problem.
A hormonal imbalance may mean that the woman does not ovulate regularly or at all. Being either under- or overweight may have an effect on ovulation as well. If ovulation difficulties are found to be the reason for infertility, medications can be prescribed to correct the problem.
Lifestyle factors, such as smoking and alcohol use, can also affect fertility. Smoking has been linked to increased chance of having a tubal pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, cervical cancer, and infections in the pelvic region.
With respect to physical conditions, a blocked fallopian tube can be a cause of infertility. The tube can become blocked due to pelvic inflammatory disease or a sexually-transmitted disease. It is possible to have a blocked fallopian tube yet experience no symptoms. Treatment for this condition can involve surgery.
Endometriosis has also been linked to female infertility. In a woman with this disorder, tissue that normally resides in the uterus is found attached to other internal organs, such as the ovaries. Endometriosis has been found to be a cause of infertility in over one-third of cases where no other reason for the lack of ability to conceive was found. Once again, surgery may be performed to treat this condition.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is yet another reason for infertility. Due to a hormonal imbalance, cysts appear on the ovaries and the ovaries themselves may increase in size. Periods may become irregular as a result. Other symptoms include high blood pressure, acne, and an excessive amount of hair growth.
Age can also be a factor in female infertility, since the chances of conceiving decrease as a woman gets older. It is recommended that if pregnancy hasn't occurred after six months of trying to conceive in a couple over age 35,, a fertility specialist should be consulted.
There are many reasons for infertility in both the male and female partner. If you have concerns about your inability to conceive, please consult with a physician who can refer you to a fertility specialist for treatment, if necessary.