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?
Diagnosis of infertility may be done based on symptoms and physical examination. In females tests for confirming infertility are: ovulation testing, hysterosalpingography, ovarian reserve testing, hormone testing, imaging tests to examine the pelvis and uterus. In males, semen testing, scrotal ultrasound, hormone testing and testicular biopsy are conducted.
HOW IS INFERTILITY TREATED?
Treatment of this disorder would depend upon the cause and age of the patient. Medications to improve sperm function are prescribed to male patients. Female patients would be prescribed drugs to stimulate ovulation.
DID YOU KNOW?
Complications of infertility treatment may include:
• Multiple pregnancy.
• Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
• Bleeding or infection.
Commonly, infertility may be defined as the inability to conceive a baby, even after a year of unprotected sex. According to recent research, 20% of all infertility cases occur because of some problem with the male partner, while 40% to 50% of the cases occur because of some problem with the female partner. Many a time, a couple may be unable to conceive because both have some kind of medical issue.
A number of reasons behind infertility in women are- age, smoking and alcohol consumption, being either overweight or underweight, excessive stress, disorders related to food habits and ovulation disorders. Infertility causes for men include low count of sperm, testicular infection and in some cases testicular cancer.
Recent advancement in medical science, especially in the field of reproductive endocrinology has resulted in the introduction of many fertility treatments including medicines and various types of surgery. Thus, initially depending on the cause of infertility your doctor may prescribe medications and also advise you to make certain changes in your lifestyle, which may include healthy eating and regular exercise. If you are still unable to conceive, your doctor may recommended either of the following methods of assisted conception-
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) – through the IUI procedure, a healthy sperm sample is acquired and introduced into the female’s uterus with the help of a catheter. The sperms are introduced when the female is ovulating for the most effective results. An IUI is performed when the male partner has a low sperm count or erectile dysfunction.
In-vitro-fertilization (IVF) - Through the IVF procedure, the fertilization of the best specimens of sperms and eggs takes place in a petri dish. As the embryo develops, it is introduced into the mother’s womb and allowed to grow. Generally a baby which result out of IVF is known as a test tube baby. Studies have shown that about 5 million births have been a result of IVF. As IVF may not have positive results in the very first try itself, many couples choose to have frozen embryo transfers (FET). FET basically involves freezing additional embryos just in case the first try is unsuccessful.
A sperm donor may be considered if the male partner’s sperms are not healthy for the above two methods. Similarly many couple also opt for surrogacy, when the female partner’s uterus does not support a pregnancy.
You do not have to be embarrassed about infertility issues, it is a medical problem that can affect anybody. Just consult your doctor in case of any concern and get treated as soon as possible.
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