Every year, a large number of couples get wedded both in the big cities and in the remote areas. Out of these couples, at least 97% would want to have kids, but the reality of life is that it doesn’t always come that easily.
An article published in Mayo clinic reported that a good number of couples struggle to have a baby and about 10 to 15% of couples in the United States are infertile. Infertility occurs when a couple is unable to conceive after about 12 months of regular unprotected sex.
A large number of societies place the blame on the women when an issue like this occurs, because they are the ones that get to carry the fetus but it doesn’t really sound fair considering the fact that a woman’s inability to get pregnant could be an issue coming from her side or one from her partner. In other words, there is infertility in men, and there is infertility in women.
Another article published in Medical News Today reports that about 10% of women between the ages of 15 to 44 in the United States have difficulty conceiving or staying pregnant and about 8 to 12% of couples worldwide experience fertility problems.
What are the significant factors that lead to the inability to get pregnant?
The following are the common causes of the inability of a man to impregnate a woman:
- Abnormality with sperm production and function- this may result from cases like genetic defects and undescended testis (cryptorchidism) other health conditions like gonorrhea, cancer, testicular infection, mumps, and diabetes can also lead to this.
- Low sperm count- with each ejaculation, the testis releases semen containing millions of sperm. These large numbers of sperm are required to fertilize the female egg, ‘ova.’ When it is low (below 15 million), it is considered a low sperm count and can lead to infertility.
- Abnormal shape of sperm- sperm cells has a particular, and when the form is unusual, it becomes more difficult for them to move towards the egg.
- Low sperm motility- when sperm cells lack motility, they cannot travel effectively to meet the egg. Hence fertilization cannot take place.
- Problems with sperm transport- sexual issues like premature ejaculation, structural defects like testicular blockage, other genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis and injury such as testicular torsion are underlying causes of inability of the sperm to be delivered to the egg site.
- Ejaculation disorders- there are some cases of ejaculatory duct blockage whereby the semen is ejaculated into the bladder. A similar thing happens in the case of retrograde ejaculation whereby the sperm goes the wrong way and gets ejaculated into the bladder.
- Environmental factors- exposure to certain substances in the environment such as chemicals and radiation predisposes to infertility. Constant exposure to heat is not suitable for the testes either as it interferes with sperm cell production. The same applies to smoke and alcohol consumption. Also, certain medications, such as anabolic steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs, could affect male fertility.
The female factor
Just as it is in the males, infertility in females has a range of causes and risk factors that can predispose one to it. Some of the major ones include:
- Ovulation and hormonal disorders- this forms one of the significant and most common causes of female infertility. It usually affects the release of eggs from the ovary and abnormalities in the menstrual cycle. It can present as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in which cysts form in the ovary or hyperprolactinemia (excess production of the prolactin hormone that stimulates the production of breast milk). Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism can also affect the menstrual cycle leading to infertility.
- Abnormalities with the uterus and cervix- the uterus is where the fetus, forms, develops and grows while the cervix is the passage for both the sperm cells and the embryo when it is time for delivery. The environment in both has to be favorable for the sperm cells or the fertilized egg for proper fetal growth to occur. There are also cases of abnormalities with the cervical opening. The shape of the uterus matters in this case, and benign tumors (uterine fibroids) could grow in the uterus blocking the fallopian tubes and preventing the sperm cells from passing through or interfering with implantation of fertilized eggs.
- Damage or blockage of the fallopian tube-salpingitis, which is the blockage of the fallopian tube, can be as a result of what is called pelvic inflammatory disease. Such diseases can be caused by endometriosis or sexually transmitted infections.
- Endometriosis- is usually a painful condition whereby endometrial tissues that are meant to grow only in the uterus grows outside of the uterus. It often interferes with the normal functioning of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
- Early menopause- women experience menopause usually at the later ages of 45 and above. However, in certain conditions, menopause could occur earlier than that. Certain factors such as immune system disorder, radiation, genetic conditions could predispose one to early menopause.
- Other medical conditions- cancer and its treatment options often leave women with severely impaired fertility. Delayed puberty or the absence of menstruation, a condition called amenorrhea is a severe hormonal disorder that has a high possibility of causing infertility. Diabetic conditions and autoimmune diseases like lupus can also affect fertility.
While the above factors are the significant causes of the inability to conceive, there are also risk factors to this condition. Factors such as advancement in age, the consumption of tobacco and alcohol use are risk factors. Smoking is said to cause erectile dysfunction, while alcohol use can cause low sperm count and reduced motility. Also, inadequate exercise, overweight, and underweight are all risk factors.
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Planning a Pregnancy – Ideal Timing?
Motherhood is divinity. A mother is born the moment her newborn takes her first breath. You can feel the miracle when your baby starts kicking inside you.
Recently we heard the good news shared by Alia. She is just 29yrs with immense future prospects. Everyone is exclaiming is it the right timing considering her professional aspects?
So, when is it an ideal timing to plan a pregnancy?
What is the optimum age to have a pregnancy ?
When should you start planning for it?
How long can you wait?
There are so many aspects of how to prioritize a pregnancy while moving on with your career. With the advancement of medical science, how logical and reasonable is it to go for egg freezing?
What are the hazards of conceiving a pregnancy after 30yrs?
A girl is born with a fixed number of eggs and over a period of time this number keeps on falling gradually. If we look at the fertility potential of a woman, its highest in the early 20s. Then it starts declining with a steep fall after the age of 35yrs. The reason is the diminishing number of eggs in ovaries with age. Moreover, lifestyle and diet also play an important role in expediting or retarding this process of aging. If lifestyle includes alcohol, smoking, or any substance use then definitely this aging process is quickened.
Similarly, if a person follows a healthy lifestyle with a diet rich in fruits and nuts then this process is deemed to slow down. So, ideally speaking best chances of conceiving a healthy baby is highest in the early twenties. Moreover, after delivery, it’s easier for your body to come back to its previous shape more easily than in the 30s or in the 40s. As Basal Metabolic Rate keeps on declining with age weight gaining tendencies increases in the late 30s and after.
Therefore it’s actually a tedious job to regain your own self after delivery in the late 30s and beyond. But considering the current scenario of target-oriented career planning, it really becomes difficult to plan a pregnancy for everyone. For them, there is an option of egg freezing which gives them an option of pushing the goal of family planning while having a backup plan in case there is any problem in conceiving later on. It’s a minimally invasive procedure that requires approximately 10 days of daily injections and 3-4 visits to the clinic.
Once eggs get ready for retrieval then a daycare hospital admission is required for taking them out and freezing them in the lab for future use. It’s a completely scarless and painless procedure done under short general anesthesia. Costing varies from 1.5 lacs to 2.5lacs depending upon your egg reserve. After that, you just need to pay an annual rent of approx. 50k till the time you want them stored. These eggs don’t deteriorate with time.
You may connect to us for any further queries on drvaishalisharma.com or leave a WhatsApp on 99-71-71-24-07. If we talk about the effect of aging on pregnancy then definitely there are increased risks of fertility issues, infertility, miscarriages down syndrome, and other mental retardation causes in babies born to mothers after 40yrs of age. The risk of having a down syndrome baby increases with age as one moves from the 20s to her 30s with a further marked rise after the 40s. So it’s always advisable to plan a pregnancy in the 20s else keeps a backup plan with medical advancement of egg freezing.