What is Infertility ?
Infertility is defined as the failure to become pregnant after one year of unprotected intercourse. There are two types of infertility; Primary infertility, which is infertility without any previous pregnancy; and secondary infertility, when there has been a previous pregnancy.
A couple can say that they have an infertility problem after they try to conceive for an year without a result. Lots of women panic if they can conceive after only three month of trying. If the infertility problem can’t be resolved with treatment then it is also called sterility. A woman who can get pregnant but has repeated miscarriages is also considered infertile.
It is the inability of a couple to become pregnant (regardless of cause) after 1 year of unprotected sexual intercourse (using no birth control methods).
Infertility affects about 6.1 million people in the United States, about 10% of men and women of reproductive age.
Infertility affects men and women equally.
What are the main causes of infertility?
The most common causes of male infertility include azoospermia (no sperm cells are produced) and oligospermia (few sperm cells are produced). Sometimes, sperm cells are malformed or they die before they can reach the egg. In rare cases, male infertility is caused by a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis or a chromosomal abnormality.
The most common cause of female infertility is an ovulation disorder. Other causes of female infertility include blocked fallopian tubes, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis. Repeated miscarriages may be caused by congenital anomalies (birth defects) involving the structure of the uterus and uterine fibroids.
There are many potential causes of both male and female infertility. Approximately 15% of couples are infertile. Of this 15%, male infertility counts for approximately 20% of the cases. Female infertility accounts for up to 70% of these cases, largely due to the very complex processes involved in the female reproductive system.
Most women are unaware that they may be infertile until they begin trying to get pregnant. Some signals of potential difficulties can be irregular menstrual periods or other conditions that cause pain during intercourse or menstruation.
Age is the single most important factor affecting a woman’s fertility. As she matures, the chance for pregnancy decreases and the odds for miscarriage increase. At 25, a woman has a 25% of becoming pregnant during unprotected sexual intercourse
Infertility can be caused by poor sexual or lifestyle habits that are easily remedied. For example, the couple may be using a sexual lubricant that interferes with the survival of the man’s sperm. Or, they may not be having sex often enough. Other easily treated illnesses or lifestyle habits that may contribute to infertility are:
Heavy use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs.
Starvation diets or anorexia in the woman.
Tight underwear or pants in the man, which raises the crotch temperature and reduces sperm count.
Weight: Women who are substantially heavier or lighter than their ideal body weight are more likely to be anovulatory, and consequently infertile, than women who are within their normal body weight range. It has been shown that in obese patients, weight loss of even 10% can significantly improve pregnancy outcomes.
Tobacco smoking. Men who smoke may have a lower sperm count than do those who don’t smoke.