Sunday, July 1, 2007
Infertility refers to the inability of becoming pregnant after at least one year of having frequent unprotected sex with the expectations of having a baby. Infertility can be equally traced to the male or the female or both. If a year has passed in the efforts of making a baby, chances are that something is hindering you or your partner from reproducing or possibly a combination between both of you. Most preganancies happen within six months of trying and, after a year, almost 90% of couples succeed in reproduction.
Infertility In Men
Male fertility is conditional and depends on the ability to have and sustain an erection, having an acceptable sperm count, having enough sperm to transport sperm to the egg, and possessing sperm of the right shape and mobility (movement). Fertility in males may also be be linked to hormonal problems and general health, lifestyle or environmental factors including: stress; testosterone deficiency; smoking; use of drugs or alcohol; medications; health problems e.g. obesity, diabetes, hypertension. The choice of clothing and underwear may also be an issue.
Infertility In Women
Female infertility is most commonly associated with the damage or blockage of the fallopian tubes, endometriosis (a condition, usually resulting in pain and dysmenorrhea, characterized by the abnormal presence of functional endometrial tissue outside the uterus, frequently as cysts containing altered blood), ovulation disorders, elevated prolactin (a pituitary hormone that stimulates and maintains the secretion of milk), premature ovarian failure, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) - production of too much androgen hormone which affects ovulation, benign uterine fibroids, and early menopause. Similarly to male infertility, a woman's chances of being infertile may be due to certain lifestyles and environmental factors such as: stress, smoking, use of alcohol and drugs, medication, poor diet, being overweight or underweight.
How is it diagnosed?
After seeing a gynaecologist (for female), a urologist (for males) or a family doctor, several tests may be performed and questions asked. Tests for women include: hormone testing, pelvic ultrasound, and ovulation testing. Tests for men include: semen analysis, hormone testing, and general physical examination. Not all tests are performed. Your doctor determines which tests are necessary. Be aware that at times there is no known cause for infertility but fortunately couples experiencing this difficult have a high pregnancy rate after seeking medical advice and through the support of family and friends.
How is it treated?
Infertility may be treated by medication, surgery, artificial insemination and assisted reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilisation and assisted hatching. Additionally, lifestyle changes are encouraged to reduce the causes and risks of infertility such as stress and diet. Certain complications may arise with treatments like multiple pregnancy, bleeding or infection, low birth weight and birth defects.