Newlyweds who dream of having their own family may find it frustrating that after more than a year of unprotected lovemaking, the dream remains far from becoming a reality. Infertility has blocked the path to a fulfilling family life, of motherhood or fatherhood. And the question of about when the baby will come becomes a stressful thing to deal with for couples who are experiencing the problem of infertility.
Infertility is the inability of a man or woman to conceive or the inability to carry a pregnancy to full-term. Doctors may offer a whole new language of medical terms but it still boils down to feelings of inadequacy and failure which may lead to stress and depression. News of pregnancy from relatives or friends may cause a feeling of resentment and jealousy. Knowing more about infertility can help you what steps to consider in dealing with the condition.
Pregnancy results when a woman’s egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm. Any interference before during or after this process may cause infertility.
There is no truth to the belief that infertility is always a woman’s problem. Infertility cases can be due to problems with the man, the woman, or a combination of male and female factors. and even due to unknown causes.
Male infertility is often associated with problems with the sperm. This may exist from birth or may have developed later in life due to injury or illness. There are men who produce too few sperm while others do not produce any at all. Some men produce enough sperm but lack the motility to penetrate the egg. Sperm count and sperm production are greatly affected by the kind of lifestyle a man has. Alcohol, drugs, and environmental toxins can temporarily reduce sperm quality and cause infertility in men.
Ovulation problems account for most infertility in women. Without ovulation, eggs cannot be fertilized. Signs of problems with ovulation include irregular menstrual periods or no periods. Just like with men, lifestyle factors, such as stress, diet, or athletic training, can affect a woman’s hormonal balance. In rare cases, a hormonal imbalance from a serious medical problem such as a pituitary gland tumor can cause ovulation problems. No matter what the cause of these hormonal imbalances, still, the end result may be infertility.
Another important factor in female infertility is age. When a woman reaches the age of 35, she may tend to have difficulty conceiving due to a lot of factors, including infertility. And when she reaches menopause, her monthly periods stop for good and she can no longer produce eggs which are indispensable for pregnancy to occur.
Other problems such as blocked fallopian tubes can also cause infertility in women. These blockages on one or both ends of the fallopian tubes prevent the egg from traveling through the tubes into the uterus and may even result to pelvic inflammatory disease known as endometriosis, or an ectopic pregnancy.
Seeking Infertility Tests
Healthy women who are below 35 years old should wait for a year before worrying about infertility. Worrying will only make the problem worse as it may lead to stress and anxiety. If a woman is above the age of 35 and unable to achieve conception within 6 months, she should consult a physician.
In seeking infertility tests, a medical evaluation is required to determine the reasons for a couple’s infertility. This process involves physical examinations, as well as medical and sexual histories of both partners. If there is no obvious problem, like improperly timed intercourse or absence of ovulation, tests may be needed to help determine the cause of the couple’s infertility.
Tests of a man’s semen is needed to look at the number, shape, and movement of sperm. Hormone tests are also done to help determine if the male is the cause of the inability to conceive.
The woman is tested for her ovulation by keeping track of changes in her morning body temperature and in the texture of her cervical mucus. Another tool is a home ovulation test kit, which can be bought at drug or grocery stores. Ovulation tests can also be done in doctor’s clinics with the use of blood tests for hormone levels or ultrasound tests of the ovaries. If the woman is ovulating, more tests are needed to determine what contribution she is making to the couple’s infertility.
There are a number of infertility treatments which can be as simple as taking oral medications to more complex treatments, such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).
IVF is the most common treatment which involves taking medications to produce many eggs, then surgically removing the eggs and fertilizing them in a petri dish.
ICSI is the most common variation of IVF which treats male infertility. If there are inadequate numbers of normal sperm or if the motility or morphology are low after the eggs are retrieved, one normal-looking sperm is injected into each egg. This technology has already produced thousands of babies in recent years.
Coping With Infertility
Couples with infertility problems are going through intense stress which can lead to anxiety and depression. Examining the people in your life and making sure they provide you with support can help relieve the pressure of infertility situations. Consult your doctor about joining a support group to relieve feelings of isolation. Studies have shown that women who attend support groups have significantly improved pregnancy rates as compared to women who do not attend a support group but receive similar medical treatments.