Definition - What does Combined Infertility mean?
Combined infertility is the inability of a couple to conceive despite six months of well-timed, unprotected sex due to the presence of both male and female factors. For example, the male partner may have a low sperm count and the female may have blocked fallopian tubes. Sometimes, both the partners are fertile on their own but cannot conceive together due to a genetic cause. A majority of couples seeking assistance for infertility have both male and female factors.
Combined infertility may also be known as double infertility or dual factor infertility.
FertilitySmarts explains Combined Infertility
Conditions in females and males that often co-exist to contribute to combined infertility are as follows:
Female Infertility Factors
- Pelvic adhesions such as due to pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis
- Advanced age (lowers the number and quality of eggs)
- Ovarian conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) interfere with ovulation
- Thyroid problems
- Genetic problem
- Psychological factors
Male Infertility Factors
- Low sperm count
- Trauma to the testes
- Enlargement of the veins draining blood from the testes called a varicocele
- Chronic infection of the male reproductive tract
- Retrograde ejaculation, in which the semen flows back towards the bladder instead of coming out through the penis
- Genetic factors
- Cigarette smoking caused erectile dysfunction
- Psychological factors
Whatever the case may be, both the partners are evaluated to understand the causes behind the compromised fertility potential. The workup will include measuring the sperm count and assessing sperm for DNA damage in men as well as assessing ovulation, ovarian reserve, and the patency or openness of the fallopian tubes in the female partner. If no cause can be determined, the couple may also be screened for genetic problems.
Both the male and female partners will be treated based on the identified factors contributing to combined infertility. They are likely to be offered assisted reproduction such as fertility medications, intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF). Donor eggs, sperm or embryos may also be used.
The odds of a successful pregnancy following treatment are nearly 50%. This varies with the age (the optimal female age is between 23 and 39 years) and the body weight of a woman. Women who have previously been pregnant have greater chances to reach a full-term pregnancy. There are, however, no reliable means to predict the success of any treatment option used.