Infertility is the failure of a couple to get pregnant after 12-15 months of trying. This appertains to young couples between 20-35 years but women over 35 who fail to conceive over a period of six months are also considered infertile. It is important to understand that infertility is a reproduction system failure and not a disease. Sometimes, there is no definite reason for the couple’s infertility and this has been put down to stress caused by lifestyle, career or, ironically, anxiety over not being able to conceive. It can, most times, be taken care of medically.
One of the biggest myths is that only women are infertile. This myth, of course, has been propounded by society which immediately assumes the problem is the woman. Unfortunately, many men have issues accepting the problem might be with them and refuse to get tested. The fact is men and women share a third each of infertility cases while the remaining third consists of problems experienced by both partners or it could be unexplained infertility. The problem is also not limited to just unhealthy men and women. Even healthy couples can experience infertility if they lead a stressful and degenerative lifestyle.
Types of infertility
There are three types of infertility that couples can face: primary infertility where the woman has never been able to conceive; secondary infertility where a woman who has had a successful pregnancy finds it difficult to get pregnant a second time; and women who have recurrent miscarriages. Miscarriages are common but a woman who has two or three consecutive ones is considered infertile.
Causes and solutions of infertility
Ovulation and quality of egg — Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, causes an imbalance of the female sex hormones which consist of estrogen and progesterone and small amounts of a male hormone called androgen. An imbalance in production affects the menstrual cycle and can cause the formation of cysts which hinder conception. PCOS occurs when too much androgen is produced while production of estrogen and progesterone falls. This causes women to have irregular or absent periods which either disrupts ovulation or results in poor egg quality.
Treatment — This can be treated by therapy which includes hormone injections, oral medication and creams. Other options include in-vitro fertilization (IVF), artificial insemination and donor eggs.
Blocked fallopian tubes — The fallopian tubes allow the eggs to pass from the ovaries to the uterus. Pelvic inflammatory disease, scar tissue in the tubes and ovary and damaged tube-ends obstruct the egg’s journey to the uterus. Despite regular ovulation, blockages will prevent conception because if the egg cannot get to the uterus, the sperm cannot fertilize it.
Treatment — Most women go in for IVF but some opt for surgery. A small blockage can be corrected by open tubal or key-hole surgery. However, if the woman has suffered from chlamydia, damage may be extensive and surgery will be of no use. Most times chlamydia occurs along with gonorrhea and needs to be treated by antibiotics. As it an STD, both partners need to be treated.
Male related problems — The reason for a woman not being able to conceive can also lie with the man. Male infertility can be caused by a blockage in the epididymis which are the tubes that store and carry sperm from the testicles, or the vas deferens which are the tubes that help take the sperm from the epididymis so that it can pass out of the penis. Other reasons are low sperm count and motility, poor quality of sperm and absence of or low semen production.
Treatment — Men can opt for surgery to remove blockages or fertility drugs to boost production of sperm. The man’s sperm can also be used to artificially inseminate the woman via intrauterine insemination (IUI). Another option is intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), by which a single sperm is introduced directly into the egg. Donor sperm is another option.
Surgery and fertility drugs can help alleviate the problem but only in the short term. Many couples who want to get pregnant now turn to the holistic approach which focuses on natural techniques that help the body self-heal, mentally, physically and spiritually, and gets to the core of the problem to eliminate it. The holistic way shows couples how to develop a healthy lifestyle, offers advice on balanced diets high in iron, protein, vitamins and folic acid, Chinese herbal remedies and acupuncture as well as yoga to lower stress. The holistic approach is the best solution to infertility as research shows that many couples have got pregnant within three or four months after years of trying.