Infertility is increasing in males and females equally. In the USA, 1 in every 8 couples struggles to become pregnant, which means that almost 7.4% of the population faces infertility issues. Unhealthy lifestyle practices such as alcohol, erratic schedules, stress, etc., are the primary reasons for rising infertility. The quality of eggs and sperm also deteriorates with advancing age. Also, nowadays, men and women are equally focussing on their careers, leading to late marriages, which impacts reproductive health. Lifestyle disorders among men, such as excessive smoking or drinking, lead to infertility. Environmental pollution and toxin in food products are some of the common infertility causes.
In this blog, we shall shed some light on various reasons for infertility in men and women, along with a few tips to maintain a healthy life.
Infertility is the inability to conceive a baby or get pregnant even after frequent unprotected sexual intercourse. It’s quite a common issue in recent days, and in the United States alone, more than 15% of married couples are struggling with infertility. The medical problems with being infertile can lie either in the male or female partner or a combination of both. There might be plenty of external factors that compile to result in infertility. However, with the progress of medical science, numerous methods have emerged to treat infertility. Infertility therapies work wonderfully well and help couples conceive.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Infertility?
There are specific diagnostic procedures for both men and women. Therefore if a couple faces issues in conceiving, they must visit the doctor and undergo specialized tests.
The timely diagnosis of infertility is the key to its prevention. Here are some popular modes for male infertility diagnosis:
Step1: Medical history review: The first step of male infertility diagnosis is through medical history review. A review of past medical conditions, surgeries, or other complications may be helpful for infertility diagnosis. The physician discusses the past medical records and family history of the patient.
Step 2: Physical examination: It includes general hormone profile tests and semen analysis. Through hormone profile tests, it is possible to diagnose any hormonal disorder that may lead to infertility. Mainly the levels of androgens like FSH and LH are examined. Semen analysis helps to form an idea bout the sperm count or semen volume.
Step 3: Laboratory Tests: Some of the most common laboratory tests to detect male infertility are:
- Urinalysis: To diagnose any urine infection
- WHO Sperm Morphology Test: To examine the shape, size, count, and functionality of the sperms.
- Sperm Penetration Assay: Assesses the capability of the sperm to penetrate the ovum and fertilize it.
- Ultrasound Test: It is essential to diagnose any structural abnormality in the male reproductive organs
- Testicular Biopsy: This is an advanced process of infertility detection in males. Testicular biopsy and Vasograohy help to identify any obstruction in the testicles or the sperm delivery pathway that may cause infertility.
Just as in the case of males, there are multiple methods to diagnose female infertility. With the appropriate diagnosis of female infertility, it is possible to prevent infertility in females and opt for timely treatment. Let us know about some standard infertility diagnosis tests for females:
- Imaging Tests: An ultrasound imaging test is the best diagnosis of female infertility. Structural deformities, blockage in the ovum delivery pathway, and multiple cysts in the ovary can be diagnosable by ultrasound.
- Hormonal Profile Test: Testing the levels of pituitary and ovarian hormones helps to gain significant insight into the causes of infertility.
Medical practitioners can do several other diagnostic tests like Ovarian reserve testing, Laparoscopy, Genetic testing, and ovulation testing to diagnose better and understand the causes of female infertility.
As discussed previously, the causes of infertility may lie in the male or the female partner. Let us discuss some of the most common causes of infertility in males and females:
Similar to a specialized diagnosis of infertility for men and women, there are also different reasons for its onset in both sexes. Let us discuss some of the widespread causes of male infertility:
One of the primary causes of male infertility is the malfunctioning of sperms or underproducing sperms. A male partner may have abnormal sperm production due to genetic defects, undescended testicles, other health issues like infections, and sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea or HIV. Varicocele or enlargement of testicular veins may also lead to abnormal production and functioning of the sperm.
The next is an issue with sperm delivery. The male partner may have average sperm production but may face a problem with sperm delivery. Premature ejaculation, blockage in the testicles, or any injury in the sperm delivery path are primary reasons for males to face an obstructed sperm delivery.
Unhealthy habits such as excessive smoking or alcohol intake, smoking weed, marijuana, or taking any medicine can seriously threaten male reproductive health, hampering the sperm count drastically. Exposure to mutagens or any cancer treatment radiation is also responsible for abnormal sperm production and defects in sperm delivery. Psychological issues such as performance anxiety may hinder stress-free copulation and be a pertinent cause of male infertility.
If the question plagues you – what is the leading cause of female infertility? Here is your answer:
Ovaries release the egg cells or oocytes that, on fusion with the male sperm, develop into a new organism. Due to certain hormonal disorders, the process of egg release from female ovaries every month, that is, ovulation is disrupted. The most common cause of this is Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. In today’s world, most infertility cases are caused alone by PCOS. Hyperthyroidism can also be a reason for ovulation disorders.
Cervical polyps or uterine fibroids also contribute to female infertility. These are essential female reproductive organs. Any blockage in these organs will prevent the fusion of the sperm and egg or the establishment of the embryo within the female body. There might be a fallopian tube blockage as well. Fallopian tubes transport the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus, and a block in the pathway will cause issues with egg delivery.
Endometriosis is a common term heard in the context of female reproductive health. The development of endometrial tissue outside the uterus (ideally, the endometrium lining lies inside the uterus), is called endometriosis and can be a primary problem for disrupting the normal reproductive functions of the ovary and associated structures. Ovarian insufficiency refers to the incapability of the ovaries to produce eggs. Premature menopause is a sign of ovarian insufficiency. Without sufficient eggs, reproduction becomes difficult.
Just as in the case of male infertility, female infertility can be caused by a mismanaged lifestyle. Various practices like overconsumption of alcohol or excessive smoking can lead to female infertility. At the same time, the side effects of any medication or other physiological disorders will also pose possibilities of female impotence. Cancer treatment can lead to female infertility. Certain drugs canalso cause infertility in women.
One of the biggest questions is – can you prevent infertility? The answer to this query isn’t straightforward. You can avoid some of the causes of infertility but not all. For example, if any male or female has a genetic disorder in their reproductive structure, such as ovarian insufficiency or undescended testicles, it is impossible to prevent infertility. But, it is possible to avert infertility caused due to ill lifestyle practices. Below are are some of the best ways to prevent infertility.
Listed below are some of the measures that may help men to prevent infertility
- Take good care of your genitals. Maintain hygienic conditions in your genital area. It is advisable not to indulge in unprotected sex with multiple partners because there are high chances of being affected by sexually transmitted diseases that can lead to permanent infertility in men.
- Limit the consumption of alcohol and narcotics, as they can affect your overall reproductive health and sperm count. If possible, practice healthy lifestyle habits of maintaining a good diet regime, daily exercise, and good sleep habits.
- Avoid taking a bath in hot water. Being in the hot tub for hours or in a jacuzzi with excessive temperature may feel relaxing during the winter days but is highly detrimental to reproductive health.
- Stay away from toxins and mutagens. It could be environmental toxins or any specific industrial waste product.
- Do not overindulge in medicines if it is not necessary. Overconsumption of medicines causes infertility in men.
Here are some beneficial tips for women to prevent infertility
- Avoid Gaining Weight: Being overweight summons multiple hormonal disorders such as hyperthyroidism, PCOS, and diabetes. Each of these disorders will promote infertility. Maintaining a healthy weight helps prevent infertility.
- Limit consumption of Alcohol and Quit Smoking: Consuming too much alcohol or excessive smoking are potential causes of infertility. Limit these ill practices as much as possible
- Healthy Lifestyle: When discussing a healthy lifestyle for preventing infertility, there are three pillars: good sleep habits to keep the hormonal profile perfect and stress-free. Second is sticking bu a healthy diet that includes necessary macro and micronutrients. The third is exercise. Daily moderate exercise will help to stay in shape, keep the body relaxed and promote good sleep. If heavy exercise is impossible, try walking and free-hand training for at least 15 minutes daily.
Preventing infertility is the best way to avoid the problem. If you are at a stage where prevention won’t work anymore, seek medical help as fast as possible. Multiple assisted reproductive technologies and other infertility treatments for males and females can help couples to conceive and enjoy parenthood. The treatments are expensive, but the results are pretty positive. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of the pivotal ways to maintain good reproductive health. Couples can also consider conducting pre-marital health checkups and medical tests to be aware of their reproductive health.