Infertility - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Infertility is a condition when a couple is unable to conceive despite having regular unprotected sex. If you are struggling in conceiving, you are not alone. There are many couples out there struggling with the same, and many conceive after getting the treatment. 


In females, infertility usually occurs due to uterine fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and thyroid diseases. In men, it can occur due to low testosterone levels, low sperm count, and erectile dysfunction. As you age, the risk of infertility increases. Therefore you should visit the healthcare provider soon when you are young to get treatment. 


Types of Infertility


Infertility can be classified as;


Primary infertility- when a woman never got pregnant, even after having one year of unprotected sex frequently. 


Secondary infertility- when a woman can not get pregnant again after having one successful pregnancy. 


Risk Factors 


The risk factors that can lead to infertility in all genders are;


  • Age- women above 35 and men over 40 

  • Having Diabetes

  • Any eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa

  • Excessive alcohol consumption

  • Exposure to environmental toxins, such as lead and pesticides

  • Too much physical activity

  • Receiving radiation therapy or other cancer treatments

  • Having sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

  • Excessive smoking 

  • Being stressed or depressed

  • Substance abuse

  • Being obese or underweight



The risk factors that can lead to female infertility are;


  • Abnormal menstruation

  • Endometriosis

  • Uterine fibroids

  • Uterine polyps

  • Thyroid disease

  • Blocked fallopian tubes

  • Celiac disease

  • Kidney disease

  • Past ectopic (tubal) pregnancy

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

  • Pituitary gland disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

  • Ovarian cysts 

  • Primary ovarian insufficiency.

  • Sickle cell anemia

  • Heart diseases


The risk factors that can lead to infertility in men are;


  • Varicocele- enlarged veins in the scrotum- a sac that holds scrotum

  • Having any genetic disorder like cystic fibrosis

  • Getting your testicles exposed to high temperatures like taking a sauna bath for a long time or hot steamy baths

  • Wearing tight pants

  • An injury that damages the scrotum or testicles

  • Hypogonadism- having low levels of testosterone and low sperm count

  • Premature ejaculation- a condition when the man ejaculates sooner as he or his partner desires

  • Erectile dysfunction- inability to get and maintain an erection

  • Retrograde ejaculation- a condition in which semen flows backward into the bladder

  • Abuse of anabolic steroids

  • Testicular cancers

  • Diabetes

  • Receiving treatment for testicular cancer

  • Undescended testicles


Treatment 


Infertility treatment depends on which partner is infertile and the underlying cause.


In females, infertility is treated through;



Medications- ovarian stimulants that help the ovaries produce eggs and hormones that help normalize altered hormonal levels. 


Surgery - if a woman is unable to conceive due to blocked fallopian tubes, uterine fibroids, polyps, or endometriosis, surgery can help get rid of them. 


In males, infertility is treated through;


Medications - drugs that help normalize hormone levels due to hypogonadism or that are used to treat erectile dysfunction. 


Surgery - any blockage in the tubes that store and carry sperm can be corrected through surgery. Moreover, varicocele can also be treated through surgery. Even a surgery for varicocele can help make sperm healthier. 


Prevention 


To prevent infertility, men and women should take some steps, especially if they want to conceive;


  • Maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet.

  • Do not drink too much alcohol.

  • Do not smoke too many cigarettes.

  • Limit expsoure to toxins and pesticides.

  • If you have any sexually transmitted disease, get yourself treated for it.

  • Be active physically. But do not over-exercise, especially women. 


Conclusion 


Inability to conceive is known as infertility. It can be disturbing for you not to be able to conceive. In this case, both the partners should be empathetic and cooperative towards each other. Often it is treatable. All you should do is follow the treatment your healthcare provider has prescribed and stay positive. 

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