Infertility is the inability to conceive children due to a variety of factors. Couples who have regular, unprotected sex for at least 12 months without a pregnancy are considered infertile.
The problem may stem from either partner or a combination of circumstances. Some infertile women are unable to carry a baby full-term or have irregular menstrual periods. Infertile men may have trouble with sperm production or transport. Approximately 10-15 percent of US couples are infertile. That percentage is slightly lower for couples worldwide. Regardless of the cause(s) however, many couples can improve their chances of getting pregnant by trying one or more of the available treatments.
Causes of Infertility in Women
Factors that increase a woman’s risk of infertility include smoking, alcohol consumption. Obesity, peri-menopause, stress, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), exposure to certain chemicals, over-exercising or insufficient amounts of certain vitamins and minerals. Specific medical conditions can affect women’s fertility. Ovulation disorders are among the most common causes. The monthly release of an egg may not happen consistently. This can be due to early menopause, poor egg quality, or thyroid problems.
Other conditions related to ovulation include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is when the ovaries function abnormally. Hyperprolactinemia is a condition that’s caused by too much prolactin, the hormone that stimulates breast production. Uterine or cervical abnormalities that can affect infertility include polyps, benign tumors, or uterine fibroids. Pelvic or cervical surgery can cause scarring or various forms of damage to the fallopian tubes and block the passage of eggs. Chronic conditions like AIDS, cancer or endometriosis can have an impact on fertility.
Causes of Infertility in Men
Men experience infertility primarily because of problems with their sperm. A host of health problems in men can produce abnormal sperm function and production. These health conditions include genetic defects, mumps, diabetes, undescended testicles, and some STDs. A condition known as varicocele causes enlarged veins in the testes, and this can change the quality of sperm. Sexual problems like premature ejaculation can affect the delivery of sperm. Other circumstances that can affect sperm delivery include a blockage in the testicle, genetic disorders, structural problems, or damage to the reproductive organs.
Frequent exposure to radiation and chemicals like pesticides can affect fertility in men. Sperm production can be affected by excessive exposure to conditions that raise the body temperature. Other things that can affect fertility in men include alcohol consumption, marijuana use, certain medications, and cigarette smoking. Treatment for cancer can cause severe damage in men and diminish sperm production.
Latest Advances in healthcare for infertility
Scientists are currently conducting research on many different forms of treatment for infertility. One of the more well-known procedures is called in vitro fertilization (IVF). This procedure involves high doses of a follicle-stimulating hormone to increase egg production. Another more advanced IVF procedure is performed by using an intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to place the most viable sperm directly into the egg. A special process called the DNA Fragmentation Index (DFI) can be used to determine which IVF procedure is more effective by detecting any chromosomal breaks in the sperm.
Researchers are currently studying a method where they actually squeeze the embryo to determine its viability. A procedure called INVOcell places a capsule containing the embryo into the vagina before implantation into the uterus. Other experimental treatments target the energy-producing structures in cells called mitochondria to improve the quality of eggs.
The abundance of research combined with new technology have created many options for couples experiencing fertility problems. The majority of infertile couples are able to benefit from the use of corrective surgery, fertility drugs, or other methods. Advanced techniques such as insemination or in vitro fertilization can help many couples to achieve pregnancy. Fertility treatments can be costly, but many programs are available to assist couples. Contact Advanced Fertility Care for more information and a better chance to conceive. The clinic is known as one of Arizona’s top fertility clinics with great IVF success rates.