Generally, majority of couples who have intercourse once in every two to three days without using birth control will conceive within a year. Infertility is when a couple is unable to conceive after performing regular sexual intercourse for one year without using contraception. In India, the urban population showcase high rates of infertility, which range from 3.9% to 16.8% as compared to rural areas.
For couples who have been trying to conceive for more than three years, the likelihood of conceiving markedly decreases every year. Here are some reasons as to what could cause infertility:
Cause of Infertility in Men and Women
Males: It comes like a surprise to all of us, but men can also have infertility problem; common cause for infertility in men is mainly related to the quality of sperm, any medical condition or lifestyle habits.
Conditions like Varicocele in which the veins on the testicles become very large, thereby generating much heat. This, in turn, leads to impaired size and shape of sperm. Any injury to a reproductive organ can also lead to damage to the quality and quantity of sperm.
Lifestyle habits like smoking or alcohol will have a long-term side effect on overall men’s health, which eventually leads to infertility.
Females: In females, the most common cause of infertility is irregularity in ovulation. The principal reason behind irregular ovulation is PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), menstrual irregularity or hormonal imbalance.
It is not necessary that all women suffering from either PCOS, irregular menses or hormonal imbalance will have infertility. Infertility may vary from person to person. But the above-mentioned factors indicate higher risk of developing infertility.
Along with hormonal imbalance, any long-term infection like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Endometriosis can lead to Fibrosis or blockage in fallopian tube or uterus which can eventually increase the risk for infertility.
Any surgery, single or multiple fibroids, and physical injury to uterus can also contribute to infertility.
Due to increasing urbanization and globalization, there is an increased risk of infertility among Indian women and men. Additionally, lifestyle problems like smoking, alcohol intake, lack of proper healthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, and stress contribute a lot to heighten the incidence of infertility.
Planning to conceive beyond 35yrs of age is second most common cause for infertility. Ideally, most fertile age group is considered between the twenties and early thirties. Any pregnancy planning above 35 yrs. of age has a higher risk of infertility.
Following are a few diagnostic tests your doctor may ask you to assess infertility or similar problems:
- Ovulation testing: To conceive, your ovary should release an egg (ovum)per month. To check the activity of ovulation doctors may ask one to use ovulation home kit test. Nowadays, a lot of home test kits are available to identify your day of ovulation and fertility day. Do consult a doctor to understand more details about the ovulation test.
- Hysterosalpingography: It is a procedure to check internal deformity or to identify any blockage inside the uterus or the fallopian tubes. It is a clinical procedure to be done under the guidance of a doctor.
- Hormonal test: To check your fertility, doctor may also ask for a hormonal blood test.
- Hysteroscopy: It is a clinical procedure that allows doctors to look inside the uterus, and help to find out any obstruction or cause behind any abnormal menstruation.
- Laparoscopy: It is again an invasive procedure to visualise and diagnose various medical conditions like PCOS, fallopian tube blockage, any abnormal adhesion of uterine lining, fibroids and many more.
Treatment for infertility varies from the person for person, usually based on causes and intensity of symptoms. A doctor may advice either a hormonal treatment, medications or investigations to find out the actual cause.
In some cases, doctor may recommend specific lifestyle changes like increasing physical activity, balanced diet, weight management, vitamin supplementation, meditation, and even certain habit cessations, especially smoking.
In advanced or chronic infertility cases, a doctor may ask the couple to meet a counsellor and based on the intensity of condition suggest a consultation IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) specialist. With the help of an IVF specialist, a couple can try to conceive using advanced medical treatments.
To conclude our discussion on Infertility, an early diagnosis is recommended along with timely treatment and frequent checks with a gynaecologist will definitely help reduce complications of infertility.