Infertility – Part I: What Could Be Wrong?
Infertility feels like a cruel joke. One of the things our body was designed to do as a woman, doesn’t work properly. As little girls, some of us play house and pretend to be mommies. For many women, there is a perception that having a child is a foregone conclusion, and that it will simply happen when we want it to happen.
But, according to the Mayo Clinic(1), 10-15% percent of couples in the United States are infertile. That means they have tried to conceive for at least one year, without success.
Sometimes it’s the woman who has a reproductive issue. Sometimes it’s the man. Sometimes both people have a reproductive problem that creates difficulty in conceiving.
Infertility can be difficult to diagnose. It may take numerous tests to find the cause. It can be a long and arduous process that isn’t easy, and can wreak havoc in otherwise happy, competent people.
What to do?
As with any health issue, a good place to start is by talking to your doctor. He or she will likely suggest an infertility specialist, who will take a full health history of both partners. He/She will likely ask the woman to track her menstrual periods, as well as using a thermometer or kit to track her ovulation. A man will likely be asked to provide a semen sample.
So, what could be wrong? There are numerous things that can prevent pregnancy. Some are easily treatable, and some are more complex. Let’s look at some of the most common causes.
Endometriosis is a benign disorder, where the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, the endometrium, is found outside of the uterine cavity, and becomes attached to
reproductive and abdominal organs. It is often painful, and is one of the leading causes of infertility. According to The Endometriosis Association, it affects 6.3 million women and girls in the United States, 1 million in Canada, and millions more worldwide.(2)
- Painful periods
- Pain during sex
- Painful urination and bowel movements during periods
- Gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
- Chemical sensitivities
- Frequent yeast infections
Common Ovulation Disorders:(3)
Women who ovulate infrequently, or do not ovulate at all, account for about 25% of infertile couples, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Types of ovulation disorders include:
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS),
PCOS is characterized by insulin resistance, obesity, abnormal hair growth on face or body, and acne. Complex changes occur in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and ovaries, resulting in a hormone imbalance, which affects ovulation, and thus fertility.
There are two hormones that create monthly ovulation. One is called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and the other is called luteinizing hormone (LH). They’re produced by the pituitary gland in a specific pattern during the menstrual cycle. Excessive physical or emotional stress, or high or low body weight can disrupt the pattern and affect ovulation.
Uterine or Cervical causes:(4)
- Benign polyps or tumors, like fibroids, are common and can prevent fertility, however many women with polyps and fibroids can also become pregnant.
- Uterine abnormalities, like an abnormally shaped uterus can cause issue with not only becoming, pregnant, but remaining pregnant.
- Cervical stenosis is a cervical narrowing which can be inherited or caused by damage to the cervix.
- Cervical mucus can cause infertility by preventing the sperm to travel to the uterus.
- Low sperm count. A low sperm count is below 10 million. A normal count is between 40 and 300 million.
- Motility. When a man has a motility issue, it means the sperm are not moving at an appropriate speed.
- Velocity, This is the forward progression of sperm. If sperm is not progressing forward, the sperm will have problems reaching the egg.
- Morphology. If there is a morphology problem, it means the size and shape of the sperm are abnormal.
- Total semen volume can be an infertility factor.
- If the liquefaction of the semen is abnormal, the semen will not be able to penetrate the egg (this is the ability to transform from a gel-like state, to a liquid state).
Again, these are some of the most common causes for infertility. If you’re trying to get pregnant and suspect you’re having infertility issues, contact your doctor. Getting to the root of the problem is the first step in creating a solution. There are better technologies than ever before, that can help women and men with infertility.
For more information, a good place to start is, Resolve.org., The National Infertility Association, established in 1974, which is a non-profit organization with the only established, nationwide network mandated to promote reproductive health and to ensure equal access to all family building options for men and women experiencing infertility or other reproductive disorders. (6)
In Infertility Part II, we’ll look at some of the technologies and support, that can help achieve pregnancy for couples who are experiencing infertility.
- Posted by holx-admin
- On November 18, 2015