The term infertility refers to the abnormal incapacity to produce children by natural means of conception. It also refers to the incapability of a woman to go through the entire course of pregnancy. Several couples throughout the world strive hard to conceive a child, however some find extreme difficulty in doing so and thus need medical assistance to be successful. Around percent of the people in the reproductive age are infertile according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a third of such cases affect females, another third affects males, and 15 percent affect both partners.
Technically, a couple is considered infertile if they are unable to conceive a child within six months of unprotected sexual intercourse (or 12 months if the woman is over 35 years old), according to the INCIID (International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination). There are many reasons this may happen. Such factors may affect either the male or the female, or both partners.
Causes of Male Infertility
There are several factors that could lead to male infertility. A common cause is the problem with sperm production. An infertile male may be producing very little sperm cells or very weak/immobile sperm cells. A man may also be affected by an underlying disease or medical condition such as endocrine problems, diabetes, Kallmann’s syndrome, hypogonadism, hyperprolactinemia, drug and alcohol-related problems, that hinder the production of hormones necessary for sperm production.
Some men might have problems on their reproductive organs themselves. Among such conditions include Klinefelter’s syndrome, testiscular trauma, mumps, Idiopathic failure, seminoma, varicocele, hydrocele, cryptorchidism, and the like. These conditions have direct effects on the testicles themselves, which are the organs responsible for sperm production.
Some men might be able to produce healthy and plentiful of sperm cells but have problems of releasing them for proper intercourse. They might have an obstruction in the vas deferens (the tube that connects the testicles to the penis), infection, retrograde ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and hypospadias. This prevents the successful transfer of sperm to the female reproductive system.
Causes of Female Infertility
As a counterpart to the causes of male infertility, females might have problems with the production of healthy egg cells. They might have problems in their ovaries such as polycystic ovary syndrome, luteal dysfunction, diminished ovarian reserve, Turner syndrome, anovulation, ovarian neoplasm and premature menopause, which hinder the healthy maturation and appropriate release of egg cells.
A woman may also be infected by other conditions that affect her reproductive health. Among such conditions include diabetes mellitus, adrenal disease, liver ailments, kidney malfunction, thyroid disorders, and psychological problems.
A woman may also have problems with certain glands that produce necessary hormones for reproductions. Among such diseases include Kallmann syndrome, hypothalamic dysfunction, hypopituaitarism, and hyperprolactinemia.
Some problems may also be affect the cervix, making it difficult for sperm to reach the egg cell. Such problems include anti-sperm antibodies, cervical stenosis, and insufficient secretion of mucus for the travel of sperm.
The uterus or the womb itself might not be conducive for carrying a child. There could be uterine malformations, leiomyoma or uterine fibroids, and Asherman’s Syndrome.
Infertility is a difficult problem. Fortunately, the wonders of medical science has produced several treatments for both male and female infertility. To know more about them, one can simply consult a fertility clinic, a gynecologist or a urologist.