Types of Infertility
Infertility can be categorized into two main types, which are mentioned below.
- Primary Infertility: It is characterized when a couple has regular and unprotected intercourse for at least a year, but is still unable to conceive. It affects both men and women and can be due to hormonal imbalances, issues in the reproductive system, or problems with sperm or egg production.
Secondary Infertility: The inability of a couple to conceive after experiencing a successful pregnancy is known as secondary infertility. Some of the major causes of secondary pregnancy are similar to initial infertility. Additionally, issues or modifications that follow a prior pregnancy, such as scarring, weight gain or loss, or the emergence of new medical conditions, can lead to secondary infertility.
Signs of potential fertility issues in women:
- Irregular Menstrual Cycles: An inconsistent cycle or absent periods may indicate ovulation issues or hormonal imbalances.
- Painful or Heavy Periods: Heavy bleeding or excruciating menstruation pain may indicate uterine fibroids or endometriosis.
- Pain During Intercourse: Some infertility disorders like endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease may cause pain or discomfort during intercourse.
- No Periods or Infrequent Periods: The absence of periods or infrequent menstruation could indicate issues with ovulation or hormonal imbalances.
- Multiple Miscarriages: A history of recurrent miscarriages may indicate an underlying fertility issue.
Hormonal Changes: Unusual weight gain, breakouts, facial hair growth, or hair thinning could be symptoms of hormonal abnormalities that affect fertility.
Signs of potential fertility issues in men are mentioned below.
- Erectile Dysfunction: An individual may face issues in achieving or maintaining an erection due to hormonal imbalances or any underlying health issue.
- Ejaculation Problems: Fertility may be affected due to various ejaculation issues like early, delayed, or no ejaculation at all.
- Pain, Swelling, or Lumps in Testicles: These could be due to infections or conditions that can affect sperm production and its quality.
- Hormonal Imbalances: Symptoms like decreased libido, unexplained weight gain, or breast tissue growth could suggest hormonal imbalances that affect fertility.
- History of Sexually Transmitted Infections: Some STIs can impair fertility and harm the reproductive system over the long term.
Causes of Infertility in Women
Some of the possible causes of infertility in women are mentioned below.
- Ovulation Disorders: Infertility can arise from issues that interfere with ovulation such as PCOS, hypothalamus dysfunction, or early ovarian failure
- Tubal Blockage or Damage: Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes can prevent sperm from reaching the egg or prevent the fertilized egg from reaching the uterus.
- Uterine or Cervical Abnormalities: Polyps, fibroids, or an irregularly shaped uterus are examples of abnormalities in the uterus or cervix that might prevent implantation or raise the chance of miscarriage.
- Endometriosis: Endometriosis can lead to the expansion of tissue outside the uterus and can lead to improper functioning of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus
- Pelvic Adhesions: Scar tissue from previous surgeries, infections, or conditions like endometriosis can impact the function of the reproductive organs.
- Hormonal Imbalances: Hormones can be affected due to improper ovulation and implantation
- Age-Related Decline in Fertility: It becomes more challenging to get pregnant as women age because their eggs are less plentiful and of lower quality.
Some of the possible causes of infertility in men are mentioned below.
- Low Sperm Count or Poor Sperm Quality: Insufficient sperm production or sperm with poor morphology can reduce the chances of fertilization.
- Sperm Motility Issues: If sperm have difficulty moving, they may struggle to reach and penetrate the egg.
- Structural Abnormalities: Sperm production or motility can be hampered by obstructions in the male reproductive system.
Genetic Disorders: Male infertility can be brought on by specific genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis or Klinefelter syndrome.
- Ovulation Testing: This can involve tracking basal body temperature, using ovulation predictor kits, or blood tests to measure hormone levels associated with ovulation.
- Hysterosalpingography (HSG): This is an X-ray test that evaluates the shape of the uterus and checks for blockages or abnormalities in the fallopian tubes.
- Transvaginal Ultrasound: This imaging procedure aids in assessing follicle growth, visualizing the reproductive organs, and locating any anomalies in the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes.
- Laparoscopy: A minimally invasive surgical technique that enables the physician to check the pelvic organs and spot conditions like endometriosis, adhesions, or tubal disorders.
- Testicular Biopsy: In some cases, a small tissue sample from the testicles may be taken to evaluate sperm production directly.
- Semen Analysis: It assesses sperm count, motility, morphology, and other aspects of the semen. This is the main test for male fertility.
- Genetic Testing: This can help find chromosomal abnormalities or genetic diseases that may cause infertility.
A healthcare professional or fertility specialist will recommend appropriate treatment options based on the specific circumstances. Some common treatments for infertility are mentioned below.
- Lifestyle Changes: One can experience an increase in infertility by making some lifestyle changes like losing weight, indulging in physical activity, stopping smoking, and consuming less alcohol.
- Surgery: Surgical procedures can be performed to correct structural abnormalities or repair damage in the reproductive system.
- Medications: In order to increase sperm production in men or to trigger ovulation in women, fertility medications may be taken.
- Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART): These treatments involve the manipulation of sperm and eggs outside the body to facilitate conception.
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI): The partner's sperm or donor sperm might be used for IUI.
Third-Party Reproduction: To get pregnant, some couples may decide to use donor sperm, donor eggs, or a gestational carrier (a woman who bears the baby for another person).