Fertility: What are the most common causes of infertility?

couple  photoWelling Clinic is the world leader in non-invasive fertility treatment. With more than 2000 satisfied couples from over 108 countries, we want you to be the next. Our speciality homeopathic treatment can help you in conceiving naturally. You would need a customised treatment for husband, wife or both, chalked-out for you by our specialists, for an early conception.

What is Infertility?

Most people will have the strong desire to conceive a child at some point during their lifetime. Understanding what defines normal fertility is crucial to helping a person, or couple, know when it is time to seek help. Most couples (approximately 85%) will achieve pregnancy within one year of trying, with the greatest likelihood of conception occurring during the earlier months. Only an additional 7% of couples will conceive in the second year. As a result, infertility has come to be defined as the inability to conceive within 12 months. This diagnosis is therefore shared by 15% of couples attempting to conceive. We generally recommend seeking the help of a reproductive endocrinologist if conception has not occurred within 12 months. However, there are various scenarios where one may be advised to seek help earlier.

These include:

  • Infrequent menstrual periods: When a woman has regular menstrual periods, defined as regular cycles occurring every 21 to 35 days, this almost always indicates that she ovulates regularly. Ovulation of the egg occurs approximately 2 weeks before the start of the next period. If a woman has cycles at intervals of greater than 35 days, it may indicate that she is not ovulating an egg predictably, or even at all. Ovulation of the egg is essential for pregnancy. Therefore, we recommend an evaluation if menstrual cycles are infrequent or irregular in a couple attempting pregnancy.
  • Female age of 35 years or older: For unclear reasons, egg numbers decrease at a rapid rate as women age. Furthermore, as aging occurs, egg quality, or the likelihood of an egg being genetically normal, decreases. Therefore we recommend a fertility evaluation if a couple has been attempting pregnancy for 6 months or more when the woman is 35 years of age or older.
  • A history of pelvic infections or sexually transmitted diseases: Sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, can cause inflammation and permanent scarring of the fallopian tubes. The presence of open tubes is essential for natural conception, as sperm must traverse the tubes in order to reach and fertilize the ovulated egg. We recommend immediate evaluation for a couple attempting pregnancy when the woman has a prior history of pelvic infection. As part of the fertility evaluation, we will perform an HSG, a test designed to evaluate if the fallopian tubes are open.
  • Known uterine fibroids or endometrial polyps: Uterine abnormalities, such as fibroids that indent the endometrial cavity and endometrial polyps, can impair how the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) and embryo interact to lower implantation and pregnancy rates. These abnormalities can also cause irregular bleeding between menstrual cycles. Evaluation should be pursued by 6 months of attempted pregnancy in women with a known history of these abnormalities or a history of bleeding between menstrual cycles. The main approach to correcting or removing these uterine abnormalities is by hysteroscopy, a surgical method by which a narrow scope with a camera is placed within the uterine cavity. Instruments can be introduced through the hysteroscope, allowing the surgeon to remove or correct any anatomic abnormalities.
  • Known male factor semen abnormalities: If a male partner has a history of infertility with a prior partner, or if there are abnormalities on his semen analysis, then we advise earlier fertility evaluation, ideally within 6 months of attempting pregnancy.

Infertility in Males

young man photoUp to 15 percent of couples are infertile. This means they aren’t able to conceive a child, even though they’ve had frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse for a year or longer. In over a third of these couples, male infertility plays a role.

Male infertility is due to low sperm production, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. Illnesses, injuries, chronic health problems, lifestyle choices and other factors can play a role in causing male infertility.

Not being able to conceive a child can be stressful and frustrating, but a number of male infertility treatments are available.

Symptoms

The main sign of male infertility is the inability to conceive a child. There may be no other obvious signs or symptoms. In some cases, however, an underlying problem such as an inherited disorder, a hormonal imbalance, dilated veins around the testicle or a condition that blocks the passage of sperm causes signs and symptoms.

Although most men with male infertility do not notice symptoms other than the inability to conceive a child, signs and symptoms associated with male infertility include:

  • Problems with sexual function — for example, difficulty with ejaculation or small volumes of fluid ejaculated, reduced sexual desire, or difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area
  • Recurrent respiratory infections
  • Inability to smell
  • Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia)
  • Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality
  • A lower than normal sperm count (fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate)

Infertility in Females

young woman photo Approximately 15 per cent of couples experience fertility difficulties. In most cases, the couple can be helped with assisted reproductive technologies.
Around 30 per cent of fertility problems in couples originate in the woman. Another 30 per cent originate in the man and 30 per cent is found in both partners. No cause is found in around one in 10 couples investigated for infertility. This is called ‘unexplained’ or ‘idiopathic’ infertility.

Female infertility causes can be difficult to diagnose. There are many available treatments, which will depend on the cause of infertility. Many infertile couples will go on to conceive a child without treatment. After trying to get pregnant for two years, about 95 percent of couples successfully conceive.

Symptoms

The main symptom of infertility is the inability to get pregnant. A menstrual cycle that’s too long (35 days or more), too short (less than 21 days), irregular or absent can mean that you’re not ovulating. There may be no other outward signs or symptoms.

What are the most common causes of infertility?

The main symptom of infertility is not getting pregnant. There may be no other obvious symptoms. Sometimes, an infertile woman may have irregular or absent menstrual periods. Rarely, an infertile man may have some signs of hormonal problems, such as changes in hair growth or sexual function.

Most couples will eventually conceive, with or without treatment.

Infertility Causes in Men

Male fertility is a complex process. To get your partner pregnant, the following must occur:

  • You must produce healthy sperm. Initially, this involves the growth and formation of the male reproductive organs during puberty. At least one of your testicles must be functioning correctly, and your body must produce testosterone and other hormones to trigger and maintain sperm production.
  • Sperm have to be carried into the semen. Once sperm are produced in the testicles, delicate tubes transport them until they mix with semen and are ejaculated out of the penis.
  • There needs to be enough sperm in the semen. If the number of sperm in your semen (sperm count) is low, it decreases the odds that one of your sperm will fertilize your partner’s egg. A low sperm count is fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or fewer than 39 million per ejaculate.
  • Sperm must be functional and able to move. If the movement (motility) or function of your sperm is abnormal, the sperm may not be able to reach or penetrate your partner’s egg.

Medical Causes

Problems with male fertility can be caused by a number of health issues and medical treatments. Some of these include:

  • Varicocele. A varicocele is a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle. It’s the most common reversible cause of male infertility. Although the exact reason that varicoceles cause infertility is unknown, it may be related to abnormal testicular temperature regulation. Varicoceles result in reduced quality of the sperm.Treating the varicocele can improve sperm numbers and function, and may potentially improve outcomes when using assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilization.
  • Infection. Some infections can interfere with sperm production or sperm health or can cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. These include inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) or testicles (orchitis) and some sexually transmitted infections, including gonorrhea or HIV. Although some infections can result in permanent testicular damage, most often sperm can still be retrieved.
  • Ejaculation issues. Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of emerging out the tip of the penis. Various health conditions can cause retrograde ejaculation, including diabetes, spinal injuries, medications, and surgery of the bladder, prostate or urethra.Some men with spinal cord injuries or certain diseases can’t ejaculate semen, even though they still produce sperm. Often in these cases sperm can still be retrieved for use in assisted reproductive techniques.
  • Antibodies that attack sperm. Anti-sperm antibodies are immune system cells that mistakenly identify sperm as harmful invaders and attempt to eliminate them.
  • Tumors. Cancers and nonmalignant tumors can affect the male reproductive organs directly, through the glands that release hormones related to reproduction, such as the pituitary gland, or through unknown causes. In some cases, surgery, radiation or chemotherapy to treat tumors can affect male fertility.
  • Undescended testicles. In some males, during fetal development one or both testicles fail to descend from the abdomen into the sac that normally contains the testicles (scrotum). Decreased fertility is more likely in men who have had this condition.
  • Hormone imbalances. Infertility can result from disorders of the testicles themselves or an abnormality affecting other hormonal systems including the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands. Low testosterone (male hypogonadism) and other hormonal problems have a number of possible underlying causes.
  • Defects of tubules that transport sperm. Many different tubes carry sperm. They can be blocked due to various causes, including inadvertent injury from surgery, prior infections, trauma or abnormal development, such as with cystic fibrosis or similar inherited conditions.Blockage can occur at any level, including within the testicle, in the tubes that drain the testicle, in the epididymis, in the vas deferens, near the ejaculatory ducts or in the urethra.
  • Chromosome defects. Inherited disorders such as Klinefelter’s syndrome — in which a male is born with two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome (instead of one X and one Y) — cause abnormal development of the male reproductive organs. Other genetic syndromes associated with infertility include cystic fibrosis, Kallmann’s syndrome and Kartagener’s syndrome.
  • Problems with sexual intercourse. These can include trouble keeping or maintaining an erection sufficient for sex (erectile dysfunction), premature ejaculation, painful intercourse, anatomical abnormalities such as having a urethral opening beneath the penis (hypospadias), or psychological or relationship problems that interfere with sex.
  • Celiac disease. A digestive disorder caused by sensitivity to gluten, celiac disease can cause male infertility. Fertility may improve after adopting a gluten-free diet.
  • Certain medications. Testosterone replacement therapy, long-term anabolic steroid use, cancer medications (chemotherapy), certain antifungal medications, some ulcer drugs and certain other medications can impair sperm production and decrease male fertility.
  • Prior surgeries. Certain surgeries may prevent you from having sperm in your ejaculate, including vasectomy, inguinal hernia repairs, scrotal or testicular surgeries, prostate surgeries, and large abdominal surgeries performed for testicular and rectal cancers, among others. In most cases, surgery can be performed to either reverse these blockage or to retrieve sperm directly from the epididymis and testicles.

Environmental Causes

Overexposure to certain environmental elements such as heat, toxins and chemicals can reduce sperm production or sperm function. Specific causes include:

  • Industrial chemicals. Extended exposure to benzenes, toluene, xylene, pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents, painting materials and lead may contribute to low sperm counts.
  • Heavy metal exposure. Exposure to lead or other heavy metals also may cause infertility.
  • Radiation or X-rays. Exposure to radiation can reduce sperm production, though it will often eventually return to normal. With high doses of radiation, sperm production can be permanently reduced.
  • Overheating the testicles. Elevated temperatures impair sperm production and function. Although studies are limited and are inconclusive, frequent use of saunas or hot tubs may temporarily impair your sperm count.Sitting for long periods, wearing tight clothing or working on a laptop computer for long stretches of time also may increase the temperature in your scrotum and may slightly reduce sperm production.

Health, lifestyle and other causes

Some other causes of male infertility include:

  • Drug use. Anabolic steroids taken to stimulate muscle strength and growth can cause the testicles to shrink and sperm production to decrease. Use of cocaine or marijuana may temporarily reduce the number and quality of your sperm as well.
  • Alcohol use. Drinking alcohol can lower testosterone levels, cause erectile dysfunction and decrease sperm production. Liver disease caused by excessive drinking also may lead to fertility problems.
  • Tobacco smoking. Men who smoke may have a lower sperm count than do those who don’t smoke. Secondhand smoke also may affect male fertility.
  • Emotional stress. Stress can interfere with certain hormones needed to produce sperm. Severe or prolonged emotional stress, including problems with fertility, can affect your sperm count.
  • Depression. Research shows that the likelihood of pregnancy may be lower if a male partner has severe depression. In addition, depression in men may cause sexual dysfunction due to reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, or delayed or inhibited ejaculation.
  • Weight. Obesity can impair fertility in several ways, including directly impacting sperm themselves as well as by causing hormone changes that reduce male fertility.

Certain occupations including welding or those involving prolonged sitting, such as truck driving, may be associated with a risk of infertility. However, the research to support these links is mixed.

Risk factors

Risk factors linked to male infertility include:

  • Smoking tobacco
  • Using alcohol
  • Using certain illicit drugs
  • Being overweight
  • Being severely depressed or stressed
  • Having certain past or present infections
  • Being exposed to toxins
  • Overheating the testicles
  • Having experienced trauma to the testicles
  • Having a prior vasectomy or major abdominal or pelvic surgery
  • Having a history of undescended testicles
  • Being born with a fertility disorder or having a blood relative with a fertility disorder
  • Having certain medical conditions, including tumors and chronic illnesses, such as sickle cell disease
  • Taking certain medications or undergoing medical treatments, such as surgery or radiation used for treating cancer

Infertility Causes in Female

Female infertility can be caused by:

  • ovulation problems
  • polycystic ovary syndrome
  • problems with the fallopian tubes
  • problems with the uterus
  • endometriosis.

Ovulation problems causing female infertility

The menstrual cycle functions by several glands and their hormones working in harmony. For ovulation to occur, a part of the brain called the hypothalamus prompts the nearby pituitary gland to secrete hormones that trigger the ovaries to ripen eggs. Irregular or absent periods indicate that ovulation may be irregular or absent too.

The age of the woman is a significant fertility factor. The chance of pregnancy for a woman aged 40 years and over is only five per cent per menstrual cycle. Ageing eggs are thought to be the cause.

A woman is born with her entire egg supply and, as time passes, these eggs become less viable. Other difficulties for the older woman include increased risk of miscarriage and genetic abnormalities in the unborn baby.

Polycystic ovary syndrome causing female infertility

At ovulation, the ovaries produce small cysts or blisters called follicles. Typically, one follicle ripens to release an egg. In polycystic ovary syndrome, the follicles fail to ripen, forming little cysts at the periphery of the ovary and often releasing male sex hormones.

Problems with the fallopian tubes causing female infertility

The sperm fertilises the egg on its journey down the fallopian tube. A blocked or scarred fallopian tube may impede the egg’s progress, preventing it from meeting up with sperm.

Problems with the uterus causing female infertility

The fertilised egg lodges (implants) in the lining of the uterus. Some uterine problems that can hamper implantation include:

  • fibroids – non-malignant tumours inside the womb
  • polyps – overgrowths of the endometrium, which can be prompted by the presence of fibroids.

Problems with the cervix causing female infertility

At the top of the vagina is the neck or entrance to the uterus, called the cervix. Ejaculated sperm must travel through the cervix to reach the uterus and fallopian tubes.

Cervical mucus around the time of ovulation is normally thin and watery so that sperm can swim through it. However, thick or poor quality cervical mucus can hinder the sperm.

Endometriosis causing female infertility

Endometriosis is a condition in which cells from the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) migrate to other parts of the pelvis. It can damage the fallopian tubes and the ovaries, and significantly alter the movement of the egg and sperm.

Even if the fallopian tubes and ovaries are not damaged, endometriosis can affect the movement of sperm, egg pick-up by the tube, egg fertilisation, embryo growth and implantation.

Best Infertility Treatment

Education: We strongly believe that educating our patients about the normal process of fertility, problems that affect fertility, and treatment options will empower our patients to make the best choices. Understanding the normal reproductive process is essential in knowing when to seek help. Helping our patients develop a deep understanding of their fertility options will make the process smoother. Our goal is to have each and every patient feel as part of our team, a team that is focused on helping them have a healthy baby.

Best Infertility Diet

f you have been having trouble getting pregnant—or getting pregnant again—forget about the so-called fertility foods like oysters and champagne, garlic, ginseng, kelp, and yams. The true fertility foods are whole grains, healthy fats, excellent protein packages, and even the occasional bowl of ice cream. This isn’t just wishful thinking. Instead, it comes from the first comprehensive examination of diet and fertility, an eight-year study of more than 18,000 women that uncovered ten evidence-based suggestions for improving fertility.

The recommendations that follow are aimed at preventing and reversing ovulatory infertility, which accounts for one quarter or more of all cases of infertility. They won’t work for infertility due to physical impediments like blocked fallopian tubes. And they aren’t meant to replace a conversation with a clinician about whether an infertility work-up is needed. The strategies described below don’t guarantee a pregnancy any more than do in vitro fertilization or other forms of assisted reproduction. But it’s virtually free, available to everyone, has no side effects, sets the stage for a healthy pregnancy, and forms the foundation of a healthy eating strategy for motherhood and beyond. That’s a winning combination no matter how you look at it. Read here for more details.

Best Infertility Yoga

These yoga asanas are a part of our specially formulated homeopathy treatment at Welling Clinics to help you conceive faster. Our treatment has been proven effective in over 2,000 couples. Read here for more details.

Best Infertility Medicines

At Welling Clinics, we help couples conceive naturally by treating the root cause through our specially formulated Homeopathy Assisted Reproduction Therapy ( HART ).

Our speciality homeopathic treatment can help you in conceiving naturally. You would need a customised treatment for husband, wife or both, chalked-out for you by our specialists, for early conception.

We have a 65% success rate in the first cycle, which goes upto 78% by second cycle.

As the only speciality Homeopathy Clinic for Infertility, we have helped more than 2000 couples to have a child naturally from over 108 countries through our speciality treatment in the last 16 years.

When It's Your Health, Trust Only The Best.

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