One of the worst nightmares that a couple trying to conceive could have is to discover that either he or she is infertile. It is most couple’s dream to have kids and rear them in the best way they know how. All that could be shattered with just a single diagnosis—infertility. The cold, hard truth is that infertility isn’t just a ‘woman’ problem. About one-third of the infertility cases rest with the males.
So what exactly is infertility? One of the most common definitions, for women, is the inability to get pregnant after one year of trying and for men, the inability to impregnate.
There are various reasons for infertility. In males, infertility is most often caused by problems related to the production of sperm. Either the male is producing too few sperm or none at all. Another problem may be the sperm’s inability to reach the egg and fertilize it, and this may be because of its abnormal shape or structure that prevents it from propelling itself forward correctly. Oftentimes, an infertile man is born with defects in sperm production.
Sometimes, the reasons for infertility may start in the later part of life which may be brought about by illness or injury. For example, cystic fibrosis often causes infertility in men. There are factors which may heighten the occurrence of this problem since the number and quality of a man’s sperm greatly depends on his overall health and lifestyle. Some things that may reduce a man’s sperm count and the quality of that sperm are the use of alcohol, drugs, the presence of environmental toxins in the body such as pesticides and lead, smoking, health problems, certain medications, radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
When it comes to infertility in women, the most common problems relate to ovulation. Without the occurrence of ovulation, there will be no eggs to be fertilized. Some of the signs that a woman is not ovulating is that she is having irregular menstrual periods, or even lacks the periods entirely. Things that increase a woman’s risk for infertility are the following: age, stress, poor diet, being overweight or underweight, smoking, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and other health problems that may cause hormonal changes.
If you wondered why age was listed first among the factors that influence female infertility, it is because aging decreases a woman’s ability to bear children and this may be because of the ovaries’ deteriorating ability to produce eggs as well as the deteriorating quality of the eggs she already possesses. We know that aging is associated with different health problems in both men and women, but when it comes to fertility, an increase in age also means an increase in risk of birth defects and miscarriage.
Finding the reason for infertility is a long process. It is a complex course and it is emotionally draining. Take your time and do not hesitate to undergo the necessary tests and exams that will help you and your doctors get a better understanding of your present state of health and any possible fertility issues. Your doctors are there to help you. Let them.