Infertility means not being able to become pregnant, within certain parameters. It is a common problem of about 10% of women aged 15 to 44. It can be due to the woman (33%), the man (33%) and by both sexes or due to unknown problems (33%), approximately. Infertility in men can be due to varicocele, low or absent sperm count, sperm damage or certain diseases. Sometimes, an infertile woman may have irregular or absent menstrual periods. Rarely, an infertile man may have some signs of hormonal problems, such as changes in hair growth or sexual function.
HOW IS INFERTILITY DIAGNOSED?
The condition is usually self-diagnosed. In case of young and healthy individuals, infertility is diagnosed by a complete physical examination by a general physician. Infertility tests are performed to identify the cause of the condition and this may also involve scans and imaging tests to diagnose the root cause.
HOW IS INFERTILITY TREATED?
Treatment again depends acutely on the diagnosis. Medications to regulate and induce periods are given. Similarly laser surgery is available to remove cysts and other minor tumours. In some cases, artificial insemination is also suggested.
DID YOU KNOW?
Infertility could happen because of multiple factors ranging from lack of regular menstrual cycles to some kind of abnormalities or even a hostile uterine environment but in many cases the problem is treatable.
In general terms, infertility is described as the failure to conceive a child after about 1 year of regular unprotected sex. As per research, 20% of infertility cases are a result of some problem with the male partner and about 40%-50% of cases are a result of some problem with the female partner. There are also cases in which the infertility results because of problems with both the partners.
There are many reasons a woman may suffer from infertility, such as- age, excessive smoking, consumption of alcohol, obesity, stress, eating disorders and ovulation disorders. In case of men the causes may range from low sperm count to testicular infection and even testicular cancer.
With the advancement in science and technology various forms of fertility treatments are available in today’s time and day. Initially, the doctor may recommend lifestyle changes and medication depending on the cause of the problem. If this does not solve the problem, various methods of assisted conception are also available. For instance-
• Intrauterine insemination (IUI) - Via the IUI procedure, the sperm sample is ejected directly into the uterus with the help of a catheter. The best of the sperms are first chosen, and inserted into the uterus during the period of ovulation for the best possible results. The IUI procedure is generally done when the male partner suffers from a low sperm count or erectile dysfunction.
• In-vitro-fertilization (IVF) - Via the IVF procedure, both the best specimens of sperm and unfertilized eggs are chosen and placed together in a petri dish. Once the eggs are fertilized and the embryo forms, it is then placed into the womb of the female partner. A baby born through an IVF procedure is called a test tube baby, and about 5 million births have taken place due to IVF. IVF may not prove to be successful in the first try itself, which is why a number of couples opt for frozen embryo transfers (FET). In this case, they have additional embryos frozen just in case they cannot conceive in the first try.
In case, there is absolutely no production of healthy sperm by the male, pregnancy can be possible through a sperm donor. The same applies in the case of women. On occasion there is a possibility that a woman’s womb may not be apt for a baby to grow, in this case a couple can opt for surrogacy too.
In case of infertility there are a number of treatment options available today. Do not lose hope if you are unable to conceive, consult a doctor and get the necessary treatment to help you start a family.
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