Definition - What does Infertility mean?

Infertility is the inability to become pregnant or maintain a pregnancy after a period of one year, despite regular, unprotected sexual intercourse. For women over the age of 35, the time period is revised to six months. There are multiple causes of infertility, which may affect either partner. However, a variety of effective diagnostic and treatment options exist, which widely increases the possibility of conception.

FertilitySmarts explains Infertility

In order to conceive, a very specific pattern of events must happen exactly as they are intended. Any deviation from this pattern could result in infertility. Both men and women are susceptible to conditions or issues that cause an inability to become pregnant. Generally, 1/3 of all infertility cases are issues with the female, 1/3 are the male, and the remaining 1/3 is an issue with both partners or no reason is known, called unexplained infertility.

Common causes of male infertility include:

  • Ejaculation or sperm delivery problems
  • Abnormal shape, movement, or number of sperm
  • Cancer treatment damage
  • Varicoceles
  • A variety of medical conditions including diabetes, infections, or testicular failure

Common causes of female infertility include:

  • Abnormalities of the cervix or uterus
  • Ovulation disorders or irregular periods
  • Damage or blockage of the fallopian tube
  • Early menopause, known as primary ovarian failure (POF)
  • Pelvic adhesions
  • Endometriosis
  • A variety of illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, diabetes, celiac disease, etc.
  • Previous cancer treatment.

Infertility treatment begins with a series of diagnostic tests and an infertility evaluation for each individual involved. The specific course of treatment is dependent on the individual’s exact diagnosis, and the most effective way to proceed. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, medications, assisted productive technology, surgery, or a combination of these methods.

Common risk factors for infertility are:

  • Age. 1/3 of women over the age of 35 may experience infertility. Being over the age of 35 also increases a woman’s chance of miscarriage or giving birth to a child with genetic abnormalities. Aging also impacts the functioning and quality of a woman’s eggs.
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Excessive exercise
  • Stress
  • Extreme weight changes
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