Infertility Health Information
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Infertility refers to a sexual relationship that lasts 12-24 months where conception has been attempted but has been unsuccessful. During this time,no contraception was used. Research conducted on 100 couples who were together over a year and engage in regular sexual intercourse showed that 90 couples were successful in conceiving. However, that leaves the other 10% who experienced problems with infertility. Some of these cases may involve individuals who have previously had children but are now experiencing infertility difficulties. Your doctor will identify the causes and provide appropriate treatment. There have been numerous advances in technique and technology with regards to infertility.
Fertilization requires the sperm cell to attach itself to the female egg cells. For fertilization to occur there are certain requirements, firstly the sperm should be strong and healthy (in quantity and mobility). Secondly, the female should
have functioning ovaries allowing for ovulation at which point the environment for conception is ideal.
As a result of the aforementioned mixture, the embryo formed will make its way along the fallopian tubes into the uterus. This transit along the fallopian tubes will take approximately 5-7 days, it will then settle in the uterus. An
important contributor is the cervical mucus, which should be of good quality and sufficient quantity. The uterus and fallopian tubes should have no pathology that may indicate obstruction of the sperm. Equally important is
there is no tumor present, the uterus should be in a healthy state to support the attachment, growth, and development of the embryo.
20-30% of men with issues concerning infertility can be determined by an analysis of the sperm. If results show any abnormalities treatment will be given as appropriate, or the couple may choose to proceed with the GIFT of
IVF procedures. Furthermore, abnormalities are an indication that further tests should be conducted, such as assessing its ability to survive in the environment of the uterus.
Common issues include low sperm count, poor mobility, tube blockage,infection, and congenital diseases. Other factors may be controllable such a obesity, stress, nutrition, and alcohol consumption, all of which affect sperm
health. Ultimately, result in infertility.
Individuals with issues regarding the endocrine system may experience testosterone deficiency which can lead to infertility. Similarly, some men may have Klinefelter’s syndrome which involves chromosome pattern XXY and
cause abnormalities in the testicles such as reduced sperm production and testosterone. Infectious diseases such as chlamydia will also have an impact on sperm quality.
40-50% of causes of infertility in females involve abnormalities of the reproductive system which may stem from congenital disease, infection,hormonal abnormalities leading to lack of ovulation, blockage of fallopian
tube, cervical cancer, and endometriosis.
Several tests will be ran to determine the cause of infertility such as pap smears, injection of a coloured substance for x-ray imaging to determine fallopian tube blockage, transvaginal ultrasounds, and more.
To determine the condition of the ovaries a blood test will be conducted to identify hormones such as FSH, LH, Estradiol, and Progesterone. Periodic ultrasounds may also be required to assess ovarian function, such as
condition before and after ovulation.
Unidentified Causes of Infertility
Unidentifed causes of infertility refers to cases where a couple has exhausted all options with regards to conception. Diagnosis has revealed no clear causes or abnormalities on the part of both the male and female. In the past
10 years these type of cases account for 10-20 % of infertility cases, however today that number has dropped to approximately 5%.