Understanding infertility
Reproductive Medicine

Understanding Infertility and The Various Underlying Causes

 Infertility is a condition where you are unable to get pregnant even after trying for a year. This can happen due to a wide array of causes. They can include ovulatory disorders, endometriosis, low sperm count or low testosterone. The risk of infertility increases with age. Various treatment options are available for people with infertility.

Know Infertility In-depth 

Infertility is a condition of the reproductive system. It causes people to be unable to get pregnant. It can affect anyone and happens due to many reasons.

 Getting pregnant involves the following steps.

  • Your brain must produce reproductive hormones that control ovarian function.
  • An egg must mature in your ovary.
  • Your ovary must release an egg
  • Your fallopian tube must pick up the egg
  • Sperm must travel up your vagina and through the uterus to your fallopian tube.
  • The sperm fertilizes the egg to create an embryo
  • The embryo travels through your fallopian tube to the uterus where it implants..
  • If any one of these processes doesn’t happen, pregnancy won’t happen.

Healthcare providers may diagnose infertility after one year of trying to conceive if you are younger than 35. Trying to conceive is defined as having regular, unprotected sex. Your provider can diagnose infertility after six months of regular, unprotected sex if you are 35 or older. 

Infertility is more common than you might think. There are many treatment options available for people who wish to begin or expand their family.

Types Of Infertility

Types Of infertility include:

Primary infertility: This is when you have never been pregnant and are unable to conceive after one year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse.

Secondary infertility: This is when you can’t get pregnant again after having at least one successful pregnancy.

Unexplained infertility: This is when your fertility testing hasn’t found a reason why a person or couple is unable to get pregnant.

Is Infertility Common?

Infertility affects men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) and women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB) equally. Infertility is very common. In the United States, 1 in 5 women between 15 years and 49 years old struggle with primary fertility and about 1 in 20 women struggle with secondary infertility. Approximately 48 million couples live with infertility around the world.

Symptoms Of Infertility

The main sign of infertility is being unable to get pregnant after 6 months or one year of regular, unprotected sex. You may not have any other symptoms. But some people may show physical symptoms. They may include:

Pelvic or abdominal pain

Irregular vaginal bleeding, irregular periods or no periods

Penile disorders or issues with ejaculation

Causes Of Infertility

There are many causes for infertility. There is not a simple answer to why you are not getting pregnant. Only a healthcare provider can figure out the cause and find the best treatment for you.

According to the studies:

33 percent of infertility involves the partner with a uterus and ovaries. Another 33 percent involves the partner with a penis and testicles. The last 33 percent involves both partners or is unexplained.

Twenty-five percent of infertile couples have more than one factor that contributes to their infertility.

Some causes of infertility affect just one partner, while others affect both partners. 

Risk factors for infertility include:

  • Age, particularly being in your late 30s or 40s. For men, age begins affecting fertility closer to 50.
  • Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Exposure to environmental toxins, such as chemicals, lead and pesticides.
  • Over-exercising
  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
  • Smoking and using tobacco products.
  • Substance abuse
  • Having obesity or being underweight
  • Abnormalities of the hormone-producing centers of your brain (hypothalamus or pituitary)
  • Chronic conditions and diseases

Women And People Assigned Female at Birth

Ovulation disorders are the most common cause of infertility in people with ovaries. Ovulation is the process in which your ovary releases an egg to meet sperm for fertilization.

The following factors can contribute to female infertility

  • Endometriosis
  • Structural abnormalities of your vagina, uterus or fallopian tubes.
  • Autoimmune conditions like celiac disease or lupus
  • Kidney disease
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Hypothalamic and pituitary gland disorders
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency or poor egg quality
  • Sickle cell anaemia
  • Uterine fibroids or uterine polyps
  • Thyroid disease
  • Prior surgical sterilization (tubal ligation or salpingectomy)
  • Genetic or chromosomal disorders
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Surgical or congenital absence of your ovariesInfrequent or absent menstrual periods

Men And People Assigned Male at Birth

The most common cause of male infertility involves problems with the shape, movement (motility) or amount (low sperm count) of sperm.

Other Causes of male infertility include:

  • Enlarged veins (varicocele) in your scrotum, the sac that holds your testicles.
  • Genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis.
  • Chromosomal disorders such as Klinefelter syndrome.
  • High heat exposure to your testicles from tight clothing, frequent use of hot tubs and saunas and holding laptops or heating pads on or near your testes.
  • Injury to your scrotum or testicles
  • Low testosterone (hypogonadism)
  • Misuse of anabolic steroids
  • Sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction, anejaculation, premature ejaculation, or retrograde ejaculation.
  • Undescended testicles
  • Previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Surgical or congenital absence of testes
  • Prior surgical sterilization

Treatment for infertility depends mostly on the cause and your goals. Your age and the duration that you have been trying are factors while deciding the treatment.

Hope you found this information helpful. Wishing you a blissful parenthood!

if you are preparing Reproductive Medicine? Join Reproductive Medicine Course?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *