When you start to think about starting a family, it seems natural that you would begin researching potential ways to make that happen. But what are the different types of fertility problems? How likely are you to have difficulties conceiving? What can you do if you want to get pregnant and it just isn’t happening? If your doctor tells you that you have infertility, this doesn’t mean that you will never be able to have children. In fact, with the right help, many people who struggle with infertility go on to have happy, healthy families. However, if you were hoping for a fast track to parenthood, these are not great news. Even so, there are plenty of things you can do and treatments available (like IUI, IVF treatment and many other) if you want to become a parent . Maybe one day very soon! Knowing about all the different types of infertility causes might help speed things along.
What is infertility?
Infertility is the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected sex. It affects 15-20% of couples worldwide and is a leading cause of reproductive health issues. The term infertility is also used to describe the biological inability of an individual to contribute to conception, either due to an absence of the ability to engage in sex or the inability to produce viable gametes (eggs and/or sperm). Infertility can also be the result of a combination of these factors.
Female infertility causes
Female infertility causes can be broadly split into two categories. One is timing issues, and the other is issues related to the woman’s reproductive organs. Timing issues – If a female has a delay in puberty, she may also have a delay in the time it takes to ovulate. In others, menstruation may start too early, ovulation may be too late, or ovulation may not happen at all. Issues related to the reproductive organs – These include endometriosis, PCOS, and genetics.
Fertility issues related to timing
A delay in the timing of puberty can disrupt the natural process of fertility. If you start menstruating significantly later than most of your peers, this delay can lead to a delay in ovulation. A delay in menstruation is called primary amenorrhea and is sometimes caused by a lack of estrogen. This condition is more common in people with certain genetic disorders like Turner Syndrome and in women who have experienced certain types of injury or starvation.
A delay in menstruation can be treated with estrogen supplements in order to restore natural fertility. Early menstruation, or menarche, can also cause fertility problems. If a female starts menstruating too early, her body may not have enough time to grow and mature fully. This is called secondary amenorrhea and can be caused by a number of things, including extreme stress, excessive exercise, and certain medications.
Unexplained infertility and genetics
If both partners have a clean bill of health and are still having difficulty getting pregnant, there may be a genetic issue at play. You may want to talk to a genetic counselor who can help you understand your risk for passing infertility on to your children.
If you decide to go this route, you may want to begin collecting your own medical information as early as possible, such as by scheduling regular gynecological exams. One of the potential causes of unexplained infertility is a mutation in the genes related to ovulation. If one or both partners have these types of mutations, they will probably not be able to conceive naturally.
Endometriosis and fertility
Endometriosis is the presence of uterine tissue in places outside the uterus, like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other parts of the pelvic area. One in 10 women of reproductive age has endometriosis, but it often goes undiagnosed. Many people who have endometriosis report a delay in getting pregnant, even when they are ovulating every month. If you have endometriosis, your doctor may recommend that you spend more time having sex, using fertility-friendly lubricants, and taking fertility drugs.
PCOS and fertility
People with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) have higher-than-average levels of the hormone androgen. This causes many of the same issues as endometriosis, including a lack of ovulation. In addition, PCOS can cause male-pattern baldness (some even go for hair transplant), dark skin patches on the neck, arms, and knees, and increased risk of diabetes. PCOS is a very common cause of infertility, so if you have it, don’t despair. Most people with PCOS go on to live healthy, fruitful lives once they receive treatment and take steps to address their condition.
Infertility caused by a blockage or ovulation issue
If you have a blockage somewhere in the reproductive system, you may have trouble ovulating. This is often the cause of infertility among people who have had previous surgery of any kind. If you have had a hysterectomy, you may also have issues with ovulation. A surgeon can usually remove your fallopian tubes while they are removing your uterus, while a hysterectomy involves removing the entire reproductive system. If you have had a tubal ligation or a vasectomy, you may have a blockage that prevents you from ovulating. In these cases, you can usually undergo an in-vitro fertilization procedure to get pregnant.
Infertility is a common health issue that affects about 15% of people. While some people may just need a little more time to conceive, others may need medical assistance. If you are having trouble becoming pregnant, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options. There are many potential causes for infertility, so make sure to get tested for them all.