Causes of Male and Female Infertility and tips to conceiving a baby

Causes of Male and Female Infertility and tips to conceiving a baby
FI
By Franklin Izuchukwu

Couples are usually diagnosed with infertility if they have been trying to get pregnant for over one year.

A single lady can also be diagnosed with infertility if she is over 35years old and have been trying to get pregnant for over 6months.

Before the diagnosis of infertility, the partners involved must be engaging in regular heterosexual intercourse.

The problem of infertility in married couples has increased over the past few years. Many a time, people take advantage of the situation and offer remedies that end up doing more harm than good.

This article aims to shed more light on infertility and what might lead to them.

We will also discuss ways to go about getting help and living a normal life with your partner. Do not worry; we used less professional terms and jargons to accommodate a wider audience.

Types of Infertility

Basically, infertility is grouped into two days sets viz:

  • Primary infertility and
  • Secondary Infertility.

A woman or a man is diagnosed with Primary infertility if they have never had a child before. It is more apparent in the case of a woman who typically hasn't been pregnant since puberty.

Secondary Infertility comes into play when the individual involved has been pregnant before but unable to conceive again over the last year.

Causes of Male Infertility

The male sperm cell is responsible for male fertility. The male sperm cell fertilizes the Female egg (ovum) to produce a zygote (later forms a baby).

In most cases, Male infertility has to do with

  • Ineffective sperm production
  • Low sperm count, i.e. the reduced number of sperm cells in an ejaculate.
  • Abnormal sperm shape
  • Abnormal sperm motion.

Sperm Morphology is a vital factor when assessing male infertility.

Low Sperm Count

Hormones like testosterone are responsible for sperm production, and they produce like several million sperms daily. A normal ejaculated sperm should contain from about 20-300million sperm cells per millimetre.

Anything less than 10-20million sperm cells per millimetre is termed, low sperm count.

Abnormal Sperm Motion

The semen houses the Sperm cells thus when a man ejaculates into a women's Vagina, the woman's egg will be waiting to receive the new visitor.

The implication of this is that 40% of the sperm cells should be motile. The sperm cells are expected to swim in the semen fluid towards the woman's egg for fertilization.

A sperm that moves sluggishly may not be able to fertilize the egg.

Abnormal Sperm Shape

Sperm cells are normally Oval-shaped head with a tail, the oval shape enables the sperm to penetrate the egg and fertilize it, anything less than this leads to Infertility.

The above means that to avoid male infertility, there should be a balance of hormones and sperm cells with good morphology.

How to maintain a Healthy Sperm Cell

  1. Exercise regularly as studies have shown that people who engage in regular exercise have a sperm count of up to 42% higher than men who do not engage in regular exercise.
  2. Regular intake of Vitamins C and D also keeps your sperm cells healthy.
  3. Smoking has been proven to affect normal fertile men negatively.
  4. Low testosterone (a hormone that helps in sperm production) has been linked to excessive alcohol intake. Also, not that excessive Alcohol intake affects the shape of the sperm cells, and you can note the effect as stated earlier.
  5. Sperm motility is highly affected by temperature, avoid wearing tight underwears. Always operate your laptop while using a table to avoid the heat produced by laptop processors.
  6. Bicycling more than 300mins a week is associated with lower sperm concentration. 

Tips to Increases Chances of Conception with your Partner

If you have been trying to get pregnant with your partner for over one year, it is expected that you maintain the healthy lifestyle listed above and follow some of the tips below:

  1. Have sex up to 3 times a week with your partner.
  2. The number of sperm cells released is important for fertilization; you must find a means of maintaining a break in between sex. you should also avoid Masturbation to maintain a good level of sperm count before regular sex with your partner.
  3. Some couples make use of oil lubricants to spice up their sex life. You should avoid using oil lubricants - they affect sperm cells.
  4. Your first course of action should always be to see a doctor if you have been trying for a long time. The doctor might advise for a sperm analysis to root out the problem.

Sperm cells require an optimum temperature to maintain its fertility.

Female Infertility

There are three procedures involved in women fertility; they are:

  1. Ovulation
  2. Fertilization and
  3. Implantation

Ovulation

A normal adult female undergoes Ovulation in every 28 days for some women or 27 for others. During Ovulation, the egg is released and transported towards the Womb, but the sperm cell meets the egg halfway before it reaches the womb.

Fertilization

Fertilization is when the sperm cells penetrate the ovum (female egg) to produce a zygote.

When a man ejaculates inside the female's vagina, the sperm travels from the vagina to the cervix, then the uterus (womb) then finally the fallopian tube (where normal fertilization takes place).

If the sperm reaches the fallopian tube and meets an egg (during Ovulation), it fertilizes it.

The fertilized egg now a zygote, travels from the fallopian tube to the uterus (womb) for implantation and growth.

Implantation

This has to do with proper maintenance of the Zygote in the womb to grow into a baby.

The above process gives an overview of what problems women can face via infertility.

The sperm cells travel from the vagina to the cervix then the fallopian tube for fertilization.

Causes of Female Infertility

Hormones control Ovulation and menstruation; thus if there is a hormonal imbalance, then Ovulation may not occur or occur at the wrong time.

Sometimes there may be diseases in the fallopian tubes (where fertilization occurs) like salpingitis - inflammation of the Fallopian tube.

Benign tumours like fibroids and polyps may also prevent implantation of the Zygote in the womb.

Other pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID) can also lead to various disease conditions that reduce women's chances of being pregnant.

Some PIDs like bacterial infection kills sperm cells when they enter the vagina, thereby preventing fertilization.

Medical Conditions associated with Female Infertility

Some underlying medical conditions are usually associated with female infertility. The causes of these medical conditions are unknown, but studies have shown notable manifestation in a female of child-bearing age.

Some of the conditions associated with female infertility have been explained below

Hormonal Imbalance in Women

As stated earlier fertilization cannot occur with the release of an egg. Some women keep track of their Menstrual cycle to determine the best time to engage in sexual intercourse with their partner.

If the Ovulation timeline of a woman is not steady (i.e. the Ovulation dates change each month), fertilization of the egg may be difficult, thereby leading to female infertility.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Clacified has a detailed article on PCOS. The Medical condition has also been recorded in females with infertility problems.

Endometriosis

It is a condition whereby endometrial tissues (inner womb tissues) grows outside the uterine areas like abdomen, fallopian tubes and sometimes even the brain.

When these inner womb tissues grow outside the uterine areas, they undergo normal blood-shedding during menstruation.

Women who have endometriosis are known to have pelvic pain, painful menstruation, pain during sex and may also find it difficult to get pregnant.

Uterine Adhesion

Intrauterine adhesions (also referred to as Asherman’s Syndrome) is a condition that builds up from scar tissues.

When scar tissues develop on the uterus' inner wall, the uterine walls tend to bind together to form adhesions.

Asherman's syndrome usually develops from uterine trauma like Dilation and curettage (D&C) - used to clear fetal parts from the uterus after an abortion or miscarriage.

Uterine Adhesions leads to women's infertility by preventing sperm motility, i.e. the endometrium of the uterus may be closed due to scar tissues.

Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are Myomas are noncancerous growths within the uterus. They are benign tumours and usually grow during childbearing age. Fibroids are known to cause women's infertility.

The major cause of these growths is still unknown. Uterine Fibroids can lead to women infertility by:

Changing the uterus or cervix's shape, thereby affecting sperm motility and number, can also block the fallopian tube and interfere with uterine blood flow, affecting implantation.

Intracivitory fibroids are know to prevent implantation of the zygote in the uterus.

Aviod:

Self prescription and herbal drugs; they may do more harm than good.

How to Solve the Infertility problem

  1. Identify the cause of the problem by visiting a Medical Doctor with your partner for counselling.
  2. The medical doctor may need to examine you physically before talking about options.
  3. You may be asked to undergo examinations like Ultrasound scan, Laboratory tests or Hysterosalpingography (HSG).
  4. Always go through the above as a couple.
  5. Remember that Infertility is not a gender but rather a reality with no bias.

Family-Building Options for Infertile Couples

Seeking medical advice is the first course of action for couples who have been trying to have a baby.

When Doctor diagnoses you with infertility by attributing it to one or more of the medical conditions discussed earlier, you should not panic because there are many options for infertile couples.

Some of the options for Infertile couples are listed below:

Fertility Drugs

Your doctor may prescribe fertility drugs for you. These drugs are primarily used to stimulate ovulation, increase sperm production, thicken the uterine lining, and so much more.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

ART would be the next course of action if the fertility drugs did not work. ART is popular even in developing countries. One of the most popular forms of ART is In vitro fertilization (IVF). Other known ART procedures are

  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection
  • Intrauterine insemination
  • Assisted hatching
  • Gamete intrafallopian transfer
  • Zygote intrafallopian transfer

Sperm, Egg or Embryo Donation

This option is also available for couples who do not have viable eggs or sperm for fertilization. They can request for Egg or sperm donation.

If the problem affects only one couple, then the other parent may not have a genetic relationship with the donated egg or sperm.

Surrogacy

Some couples may have viable eggs and sperm and have a medical condition that does not support carrying a baby inside the womb.

The intended couple can always go for Surrogacy - where another woman is contracted to carry the baby to term. In this case, the couples are related to the child biologically.

Couples can also combine egg and sperm donation with Surrogacy.

Adoption

An adoption is a feasible option for infertile couples though there are stigmas associated with developing countries' practice.

Many kids in foster homes need a place to call home and parents to call mom and Dad.

It is possible to live with your partner and be happy without kids.

Living Child-Free

The last option for infertile couples is to live without children. Couples can decide to live without kids, that is perfectly okay.

Everyone cannot be a parent, and it is possible to live happily without Children. You can always live a life of fulfilment without kids.

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