MD - Obstetrtics & Gynaecology, FMAS, DMAS, MBBS
What causes infertility?
It is important to understand what fertility is for a person or couple to know when it is time to seek help. Infertility refers to the inability to conceive after having regular unprotected sex for a period of 12 months or so. The complex process of ovulation and fertilization need to work right in order to become pregnant.
The common disorders that cause infertility in male and female are listed below:
Causes of male infertility
1. Abnormal sperm production
This can be due to various problems like undescended testicles, genetic defects, health problems including diabetes, infections such as mumps, chronic urinary tract infection especially e. Coli or surgeries on the testicles. Enlarged veins in the testes increase blood flow and heat, affecting the number and shape of sperm.
2. Problems with delivery of sperm
This can happen due to sexual problems, such as premature ejaculation, retrograde ejaculation (semen entering bladder instead of emerging through the penis during orgasm), genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, structural problems such as blockage of the part of the testicle that contains sperm or injury to reproductive organs.
3. Overexposure to certain chemicals and toxins
These can include radiation, pesticides, tobacco smoke, alcohol, marijuana and steroids. Frequent exposure to heat can also elevate the testicular temperature, impairing sperm production.
4. Damage related to cancer
This includes radiation and chemotherapy. Cancer treatments can impair sperm production. Removal of one testicle due to cancer may also affect male fertility.
Causes of female infertility
1. Ovulation disorders
This prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs. Examples include hormonal disorder (PCOS, hypothyroidism, hyperprolactinemia), excessive exercise, eating disorders, injuries, cysts be it follicular or endometriotic and ovarian tumors.
2. Uterine abnormalities
This includes problems related to the opening of cervix or abnormalities in the shape of the uterus which includes arcuate or septate uterus or any congenital anomalies like bicornuate uterus or uterine didelphys. Fibroids may distort the uterine cavity interfering with implantation of fertilized egg. Adenomyosis or endometriosis of the endometrium is one the common causes of early infertility.
3. Fallopian tube damage
This usually results from infection of the fallopian tube by a pelvic inflammatory disease caused by sexually transmitted infection, endometriosis or adhesions.
4. Thyroid problems
Disorders of the thyroid gland, either too much thyroid hormone or too little can interrupt the menstrual cycle, leading to infertility in the long run.
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Related Tip: How Stress and a Sedentary Lifestyle Make You Infertile