Women do have trouble in getting pregnant and at times seek various forms of fertility treatments to conceive.
What Causes Female Infertility?
1. Damage to fallopian tubes:
These structures do carry eggs from one’s ovaries, which do produce eggs, to the uterus, where the baby develops. They can also get damaged when scars form after pelvic infections, endometriosis, as well as pelvic surgery that can prevent sperm from reaching an egg.
2. Hormonal problems:
One may not be getting pregnant as one’s body is not going through the usual hormonal changes that lead to the release of an egg from the ovary and the thickening of the lining of the uterus.
3. Cervical issues:
Some women do have a condition that does prevent sperm from passing through the cervical canal.
4. Uterine trouble.
One can have polyps and fibroids that do interfere with getting pregnant. Uterine polyps, as well as fibroids, do occur when too many cells do indeed grow in the endometrium,
the lining of one’s uterus.
5. “Unexplained” infertility.
Nearly about 20% of couples who suffer from infertility problems, the exact causes are never pinpointed.
Symptoms of male infertility
The main indication of male infertility is the inability to conceive a child. One may not come across any obvious signs or symptoms. In certain cases, of course, an underlying problem such as an inherited disorder, a hormonal imbalance, dilated veins around the testicle or a condition that does block the passage of sperm does cause signs and symptoms.
No doubt most men with male infertility do not actually notice symptoms other than the inability to conceive a child, signs, and symptoms that are associated with male infertility include:
• Problems with sexual function — One has difficulty with ejaculation or small volumes of fluid get ejaculated, reduced sexual desire, or even difficulty in maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
• Pain, swelling or perhaps a lump in the testicle area
• Recurrent respiratory infections
• Inability to smell abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia)
• 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or
• Decreased facial or even body hair or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality
• A lower than normal sperm count (fewer than a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate)
When to consult?
When one is unable to conceive a child after a year of regular, unprotected intercourse or sooner in case one suffers from the following:
• Erection or ejaculation problems, low sex drive, or other problems with sexual function
• Pain, discomfort, a lump or swelling in the testicle area
• A history of testicle, prostate or even sexual problems
• A groin, testicle, penis or scrotum surgery
Causes of Male fertility
Male fertility is acknowledged as a complex process. In order to get one’s partner pregnant, one has to:
• Ones must produce healthy sperm: To start with, this involves the growth and formation of the male reproductive organs during puberty. One of the testicles needs to be functioning correctly, and one’s body must also produce testosterone as well as other hormones in order to trigger and also maintain sperm production.
• Sperm need to be carried into the semen. Once sperms are produced in one’s testicles, delicate tubes transport them until they also mix with semen and are also ejaculated out of the penis.
• Sperm needs to be in the semen: In case the number of sperm in one’s semen (sperm count) is low, it does decrease the odds that one of one’s sperm will fertilize one’s partner’s egg. A low sperm count is fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or fewer than 39 million per ejaculate.
• Sperm must also be functional and be able to move: If the movement (motility) or function of one’s sperm is abnormal, the sperm may not be able to reach or penetrate one’s partner’s egg.
Causes of Male fertility
Problems with male fertility can be caused by a number of health issues and medical treatments. Some of these include:
A varicocele is a no doubt a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle. It is the common reversible cause of male infertility. Although the exact reason how varicoceles cause infertility is unknown, it may also be related to abnormal testicular temperature regulation. Varicoceles result in reduced quality of the sperm.
Treating the varicocele can also improve sperm numbers and functioning, and may potentially also improve outcomes when making use of assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilization.
Some infections can also interfere with sperm production or sperm health or can cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. These also include inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) or testicles (orchitis) and some sexually transmitted infections, which include gonorrhea or HIV.
Retrograde ejaculation does occur when semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of emerging out the tip of the penis. Various health conditions can also cause retrograde ejaculation, including diabetes, spinal injuries, medications as well as surgery of the bladder, prostate or urethra.
Some men with spinal cord injuries or certain diseases cannot ejaculate semen, even though they still produce sperm. Often in these cases, sperm can still be retrieved or made use of in assisted reproductive techniques.
Antibodies that attack sperm:
Anti-sperm antibodies are immune system cells that do mistakenly identify sperm as harmful invaders and also attempt to eliminate them.
Cancers and nonmalignant tumors can also affect the male reproductive organs directly, through the glands that happen to release hormones related to reproduction, such as the pituitary gland, or through unknown causes. In certain cases, surgery, radiation or chemotherapy is made use of to treat tumors that can affect male fertility.
In some males, during fetal development, one or both testicles do fail to descend from the abdomen into the sac that does normally contain the testicles (scrotum). Decreased fertility is also more likely in men who have had this condition.
Infertility can also result from disorders of the testicles themselves or an abnormality that affects other hormonal systems which include the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands. Low testosterone (male hypogonadism) and other hormonal problems do have number underlying causes.
Defects of tubules that transport sperm:
Many different tubes do carry sperm. They can also be blocked due to various causes, including inadvertent injury from surgery, prior infections, trauma or abnormal development, such as with cystic fibrosis or similar inherited conditions.
Blockage can also occur at any level, including within the testicle, in the tubes that do drain the testicle, in the epididymis, in the vas deferens, near the ejaculatory ducts or in the urethra.
Inherited disorders such as Klinefelter’s syndrome — in which a male is born with two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome (instead of one X and one Y) — cause abnormal development of the male reproductive organs. Other genetic syndromes that are associated with infertility include cystic fibrosis, Kallmann’s syndrome and Kartagener’s syndrome.
Problems with sexual intercourse:
These can also include trouble keeping or maintaining an erection sufficient for sex (erectile dysfunction), premature ejaculation, painful intercourse, anatomical abnormalities such as having a urethral opening beneath the penis (hypospadias), or psychological or even relationship problems that do interfere with sex.
A digestive disorder caused by sensitivity to gluten, celiac disease can also cause male infertility. Fertility may also improve after adopting a gluten-free diet.
Testosterone replacement therapy, long-term anabolic steroid use, cancer medications (chemotherapy), certain antifungal medications, some ulcer drugs and also certain other medications that can impair sperm production as well as decrease male fertility.
Certain surgeries can also prevent one from having sperm in one’s ejaculate, including vasectomy, inguinal hernia repairs, scrotal or testicular surgeries, prostate surgeries, and large abdominal surgeries that are performed for testicular and rectal cancers, among others. In most of the cases, surgery can be performed to either reverse these blockages or to retrieve sperm directly from the epididymis and testicles.
Overexposure to certain types of environmental elements such as heat, toxins, and chemicals can indeed reduce sperm production or sperm function. Specific causes do include:
• Industrial chemicals. Extended exposure to benzenes, toluene, xylene, pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents, painting materials, and lead may contribute to low sperm counts.
• Heavy metal exposure. Exposure to lead or other heavy metals also may cause infertility.
• Radiation or X-rays. Exposure to radiation can reduce sperm production, though it will often eventually return to normal. With high doses of radiation, sperm production can be permanently reduced.
• Overheating the testicles. Elevated temperatures do impair sperm production as well as functioning. Although studies are rather limited and are inconclusive, frequent usage of saunas or hot tubs may temporarily impair one’s sperm count.
Sitting for long periods, wearing tighter clothe or working on a laptop computer for long stretches of time also may increase the temperature in one’s scrotum and may slightly reduce one’s sperm production.
Health, lifestyle and other causes
Some other causes of male infertility include:
• Drug use: Anabolic steroids that have been taken in order to stimulate muscle strength, as well as growth, can also cause the testicles to shrink and sperm production to decrease. Usage of cocaine or marijuana may also temporarily reduce the number and quality of one’s sperm as well.
• Alcohol use. Drinking alcohol can also lower testosterone levels, cause erectile dysfunction and also decrease sperm production. A liver disease which has been caused by excessive drinking also may lead to fertility problems.
• Tobacco smoking: Men who do smoke may have a lower sperm count than do those who do not smoke. Secondhand smoke also may affect male fertility.
• Emotional stress: Stress can also interfere with certain hormones that are required to produce sperm. Severe or even prolonged emotional stress, including problems with fertility, can also affect one’s sperm count.
• Depression: Research does show that the likelihood of pregnancy may be in fact lower if a male partner has severe depression. In addition, depression in men may also cause sexual dysfunction due to reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, or delayed or inhibited ejaculation.
• Weight. Obesity can rather impair fertility in several ways, including directly impacting the sperms themselves as well as by causing hormonal changes that can reduce male fertility.
Certain occupations such as welding or those involving prolonged sitting, such as truck driving, can cause risk of infertility.
Treatment of infertility
It is difficult to ascertain the exact cause of infertility. Even then treatments are suggested.
In cases of infertility, the female partner also is expected to be checked up. This is to determine specific treatments or it can go ahead with assisted reproductive techniques.
Treatments for male infertility
For example, a varicocele can quite often be surgically corrected or an obstructed vas deferens repaired. Prior vasectomies can also be reversed. In cases where no sperm is present in the ejaculation, sperm can also often be retrieved directly from the testicles or epididymis making use sperm-retrieval techniques.
Antibiotic treatment might cure an infection of the reproductive tract but does not always restore fertility.
• Treatments for sexual intercourse problems:
Medication or counseling can also help improve fertility in conditions such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
• Hormonal treatments and medications:
One’s doctor might also recommend hormone replacement or medications in cases where infertility is indeed caused by high or low levels of certain hormones or problems with the way the body makes use of hormones.
• Assisted reproductive technology (ART).
ART treatments do involve obtaining sperm through normal ejaculation, surgical extraction or from donor individuals, depending much upon one’s specific case and wishes. The sperm is then inserted into the female genital tract or made use of to perform in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
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