Understanding infertility and the problems related to it is the first step in in the process of conception. Are you trying to conceive? Yet there is no sign of pregnancy. You may wonder if you or your partner has a medical problem or any underlying condition that you need to look into.
Doctors suggest some tests if a couple has not conceived after a year, despite regular sexual intercourse. Tests or treatment may start earlier if the woman is older, or if there is an obvious reason why a particular couple will not conceive, however long they try. You may want to see a doctor earlier, if the woman in the couple is over the age of 35 or if either partner has a history of fertility problems.
Causes of fertility problems?
Both, men and women can face a fertility problem. In about 18% of infertile couples, both partners have fertility problems, and in about 12% of couples, no cause is found after all tests have been done. This is called unexplained infertility.
Problems in Females:
Not producing required number of eggs (ovulating) remains a major cause of problems in majority of couples. In some women, ovulation occurs on some months and some months it doesn’t. Whereas for some, it is permanent.
There are several causes of ovulation problems, which include:
- Anovulation – Failure to produce mature egg
- Premature ovarian insufficiency.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Irregular ovulation/lack of ovulation
- Hormonal imbalance.
- Underweight or overweight.
- Tubal factor – like block tubes
- Peritubal Adhesions
- Cervical Infections
- Uterus problems
- Excessive exercise (such as regular long-distance running) can affect your hormone balance which can affect ovulation.
- Long-term (chronic) illnesses. Some women with severe chronic illnesses, such as uncontrolled diabetes, cancers and chronic kidney disease, may not ovulate.
- Side-effects from certain medications which affect the ability to ovulate
Sperm Problems in Males:
The most common reason for infertility in males is a problem with sperm, due to causes unknown. The sperm may be reduced in number, unable to swim forwards (decreased mobility) and/or abnormality in their form.
There are various factors that may affect sperm production and cause problems in fertility in males.
- History of infection of the testicles (E.g. Mumps, etc)
- Gonorrhoeaor any sexually transmitted infections.
- Tumours or fibroids of the testicles.
- Testicles that haven’t descended properly.
- Side-effects of some medicines: which include sulfasalazine, nitrofurantoin, tetracyclines, cimetidine, colchicine, allopurinol, some chemotherapy drugs, cannabis, cocaine and anabolic steroids.
- Scarring from previous surgeries, such as an inguinal hernia repair – may block the ducts which carry sperm, and affect fertility.
- A varicocele may possibly affect male fertility.
- Certain hormonal imbalances(E.g. Improper functioning of the pituitary gland in the brain leading to conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome or hyperprolactinaemia).
- Some inherited conditions, due to abnormal genes, may affect the development and function of the testicles. E.g. Klinefelter’s syndromeand Kallman’s syndrome.
- Underweight/ overweightmay also affect fertility in men.
Advices/ Suggestions for better Conception rates:
- Balanced & Healthy Diet: Inculcate the habit of consumption of a well balanced diet, on proper times for optimum maintenance of health.
- Smoking: largest contributor in fertility problems in men and women. It has been estimated that in each menstrual cycle, smokers have about two thirds the chance of conceiving compared to non-smokers. Smoking is also harmful to a developing baby if the mother smokes. Therefore, it is a good time for both partners to avoid smoking.
- Alcohol in excess: this may affect fertility – both for men and for women. The Department of Health recommends that women trying to become pregnant should completely avoid alcohol.
- Medication: if you are on any regular medication and are thinking about conception, discuss this with your doctor in advance. Some medicines can affect fertility and the developing baby and may need to be changed before you conceive.
- Diabetes: in cases of medical conditions which need regular monitoring, in particular diabetes, it is very important to start planning before you plan conception.
- Weight management: Being overweight/underweight reduces chance of conception. A healthy BMI is to be maintained to ensure conception and pregnancy.
- Other recreational drugs: Usage of recreational drugs is a strict no-no, on planning of conception, because they can adversely affect fertility in both men and women.
By following the above tips, you can boost your chances of conception.
Book an appointment with us at Prathima Hospitals to understand fertility problems and in treatment and successful conception.