Infertility refers to an inability to conceive after having regular unprotected sex. Infertility can also refer to the biological inability of an individual to contribute to conception, or to a female who cannot carry a pregnancy to full term. In many countries infertility refers to a couple that has failed to conceive after 12 months of regular sexual intercourse without the use of contraception.
Studies indicate that slightly over half of all cases of infertility are a result of female conditions, while the rest are caused by either sperm disorders or unidentified factors. According to The AG Clinic, Lucknow :
- About 50% of cases of infertility are due to a problem in the man.
- About 40% to 50% of cases of infertility are due to a problem in the woman.
- About 30% to 40% of cases of infertility are due to problems in both the man and the woman.
Chances of conceiving within one year
In India, North America and much of the world approximately 85% of couples will conceive within one year if they have regular unprotected sex. Averages in the UK are as follows (National Health Service) :
- 20% will conceive within one month.
- 70% will conceive within six months.
- 85% will conceive within 12 months.
- 90% will conceive within 18 months.
- 95% will conceive within 24 months.
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 :
- 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 progressively 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.
Male infertility refers to the inability of a male to make a fertile female pregnant. It is usually due to semen deficiencies.
Male infertility Causes :
- The factors may be pre-testicular, testicular or post-testicular.
- Pre-testicular: Drugs, smoking, alcohol, medications affecting spermatogenesis (spironolactone, chemotherapy).
- Testicular: Age, genetic defects, carcinoma, varicocele, trauma, hydrocele, mumps, idiopathic.
- Post-testicular: These defects include the defects in the genital tract and ejaculation problems.
Diagnosis of Male infertility
Diagnostic tools include medical history, physical examination, semen analysis, blood analysis to rule out hormonal imbalances or genetic issues. Patient's partner can also be interviewed.
Male infertility Treatment
The treatment modalities depend upon the underlying disease and extent of impairment. Pre-testicular issues can be rectified by medicines. Testicular based infertility is usually medication resistant. Post-testicular infertility can be overcome by surgery.
In infertility condition, the female fertility should also be checked.