What is infertility?
Infertility is inability to conceive a child after twelve months of regular sexual activity. After this period, the couple should go to a specialist clinic to obtain a diagnosis and start treatment. Statistically, 75% of couples that start infertility treatment become parents.
What are the causes of infertility?
Every couple desiring a child must remember that infertility is a problem of both partners, so both need to be diagnosed.
The most common cause of infertility in women is obstruction of the fallopian tubes and hormonal disorders. The former may be due to bacterial infections or previous venereal diseases.
What adversely affects female fertility?
- Bad diet and excessive use of stimulants.
- Stress, also cause by unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant.
- Excessive physical exercise.
- Dysfunction of hormone-producing glands and organs.
Infertility in women may be also caused by endometriosis, i.e. a disease in which fragments of the uterine mucosa enter the abdominal cavity during menstruation. In further cycles it causes scarring and inflammation. Problems with getting pregnant may also be due to malformation of the reproductive organs.
Problems with fertility in men are usually due to poor sperm quality, i.e. a low sperm count in 1ml of semen (below 15 million), and their limited motility. This may be caused by too tight underwear, long hours spent on driving, or overheating the testicles.
Testicular damage due to mechanical injuries or previous diseases, as well as problems with the patency of the sperm ducts.
How to diagnose the causes of infertility?
Both partners should be present during the visit to the specialist. The doctor collects a detailed interview, performs examination, analyses the disease history, and refers the couple for tests. They are usually laboratory blood tests to determine the parameters important in the process of conceiving a child.
In men, extended sperm analysis is always required to diagnose the problem with fertility.
In women, a cervical hostility test is usually performed, as well as the test for anti-sperm antibodies, and patients are asked for a regular control of their menstrual cycle.
How to treat infertility?
Treatment of male infertility
If infertility is caused by hormonal disorders, the patient receives hormones at proper doses, to regulate their concentration in blood. Problems with sperm ducts, e.g. varicocele, require a surgical intervention, whereas infections that affect fertility are typically treated with antibiotics.
Treatment of female infertility
Problems associated with irregular ovulation are treated with hormones. Causes such as ovarian obstruction, uterine malformations, ovarian cysts and fibroids or endometriosis require invasive treatment. If cervical hostility is the cause of problems, pharmacological therapy is administered.
When the above methods are unsuccessful, artificial insemination or in vitro fertilisation are viable options. Artificial insemination involves injection of prepared sperm into the uterus. In vitro is a method of extracorporeal fertilisation in which the egg is fertilised in a laboratory setting, and placed in the uterus.