Infertility refers to the inability to conceive after a year of having unprotected intercourse without contraceptives. For women above a certain age, the duration for diagnosing infertility drops significantly. Infertility has many risk factors and causes but can be treated. Consulting with reputable infertility clinics is a good start when struggling to conceive. Below are the causes, symptoms, and treatments for infertility:
Infertility Causes and Risk Factors
The common risk factors for infertility in women include age, smoking, alcohol, eating disorders, obesity, and an imbalanced diet. Too little or too much exercise, sexually transmitted infection, and exposure to certain chemicals and pesticides also increase the risk. Other risk factors include mental stress that affects ovulation and sexual interest. When you visit infertility clinics, the doctor will examine your medical history and lifestyle for popular risk factors.
Infertility can stem from medical conditions and some medications and treatments. Common medical conditions linked to infertility in women include ovulation disorders resulting in premature ovarian failure. PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), hyperprolactinemia, poor egg quality, thyroid problems, and chronic conditions like AIDs and cancer can affect ovulation. Infertility may stem from problems in the uterus and fallopian tubes.
A problem in the fallopian tube may prevent the egg from traveling from the ovary to the uterus or womb. Causes include procedures like pelvic surgery and cervical surgery. Submucosal fibroids, endometriosis, and past sterilization treatment can affect the uterus and fallopian tubes. Medications/treatments like NSAIDs, illegal drugs, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are linked to infertility in women. High cholesterol is another notable cause of infertility.
Symptoms of Infertility in Women
The primary infertility symptom is the lack of conception after several months of trying. If you have been having regular unprotected intercourse with your partner and can’t get pregnant, you should visit a fertility doctor. Failing to get pregnant after trying for more than six months if you are above 35 years is a clear sign of infertility. The problem may stem from the man or woman, so you should see a fertility doctor to examine the underlying cause.
Other infertility symptoms are not as obvious. Women may experience irregular, absent, or very painful menstrual periods. Having multiple miscarriages is another reason to visit infertility clinics for further diagnosis and treatment. If you have been diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis or have undergone cancer treatment, you should see a doctor. Women above 40 should consult with fertility experts when planning to conceive.
Symptoms of Infertility in Men
Many men do not notice the signs of infertility, but they, too, can have problems that cause difficulty to conceive. The most common causes of infertility in men are low sperm count, abnormal sperm production, and blockages that prevent sperm delivery. These problems can occur because of illness, injury, or lifestyle choices.
Men should look out for symptoms like problems with sexual function, pain or swelling in the testicle area, signs of hormonal or chromosomal problems, or an inability to smell. When you notice these symptoms, schedule a visit with a doctor. Other reasons to see a doctor include a history of testicle, prostate, or sexual dysfunction, a groin, testicle, or scrotum surgery, or pain and swelling in the testicle area.
Some lifestyle changes men can make to improve fertility include doing a healthy amount of exercise, taking supplements like vitamin C, and reducing stress levels.
Infertility Diagnosis and Treatments
Before treatment, the doctor will complete a diagnosis to identify the underlying cause of your infertility. Diagnosis starts with an evaluation of your medical history and a general question-answer session. The doctor will ask about ovulation signs and recommend a home ovulation kit to record them. Diagnosis can include a pelvic exam, blood test, a transvaginal ultrasound, hysteroscopy, saline sonohysterogram (SIS), hysterosalpingogram (HSG), and laparoscopy.
Most cases of infertility in women can be treated without medication. The doctor may recommend changing a few aspects of your life, including diet, sleep and stress patterns, and intercourse schedule. Some couples will need medication to stimulate ovulation or surgeries to remove fibroids and open blocked fallopian tubes. In other cases, assisted conception measures, such as IUI, IVF, and ICI, are necessary. Here is an overview of the treatment options:
a) Fertility Medication
Medications and drugs can change hormone levels to stimulate ovulation in women. Popular fertility medications include clomifene, follicle-stimulating hormone, metformin, human menopausal gonadotropin, human chronic gonadotropin, bromocriptine, and a gonadotropin-releasing hormone.
b) Surgical Procedures
Infertility clinics may recommend surgery to remove uterine fibroids, polyps, and scars that prevent the egg from passing. Surgery can open a blocked fallopian tube and doubles the likelihood of conception in women diagnosed with endometriosis. Very few women need surgery to resolve infertility.
c) Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
IUI involves placing healthy sperm directly in the uterus during peak ovulation to increase the chances of conception. The procedure is common when the man has low sperm count, decreased mobility, or severe ED. The woman may receive low doses of ovary stimulating hormone.
d) In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF is a type of assisted-reproductive-technology (ART) where sperm and egg are placed in a petri dish where fertilization takes place. The doctor will then place the embryo in the uterus for implantation to begin the pregnancy. You can choose to freeze the embryo for future implantation.
e) Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
ICSI is another type of assisted-reproductive-technology very similar to IVF. A single sperm cell is fired into one egg for fertilization, after which the egg is placed in the uterus to begin pregnancy. ICSI can improve conception for couples where the man has low sperm concentrations during ejaculations.
f) Third-Party ART
Using third-party assisted reproductive technology involves donor eggs, sperms, or embryos. The option suits couples that do not have healthy sperm, egg, or womb to achieve conception. Couples can also choose surrogates or gestational carriers who agree to carry and give birth to the baby. More information about potential donors and the whole process can be found on egg and sperm bank websites, such as cryosinternational.com.
Trusted Infertility Clinics for Women
Couples seeking fertility doctors and treatment have many options. When comparing alternatives, make sure you stick to reputable infertility clinics. Working with experts will ensure proper diagnosis and treatment and successful pregnancies without complications. Learn more about infertility here.