Pregnancy and Parenting Features

What Is Infertility?

Many couples who are considering having a baby worry about having trouble getting pregnant. Some couples, after having tried to become pregnant for a couple of months, are concerned that they may be infertile. Infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant after one year of attempting to become pregnant. Infertility is a common problem. Roughly 10 percent of women who attempt to become pregnant encounter problems with infertility.

Infertility can be caused by many factors. In about 50% of the cases, infertility is caused by a problem with the woman. In around 40% of cases, it is due to male infertility. In the remaining 10% of cases, it is a problem with both the man and the woman.

For men, the most common cause of infertility is a low sperm count. In addition to a low sperm count, some men’s sperm have problems with motility, or the ability of the sperm to swim forward. For some men, their bodies may contain antibodies that counteract their own sperm. Sometimes, there is a problem with the vas deferens, the tube that carries the sperm from the testicles into the body.

For women, there can be many different problems that can cause infertility. PID or Pelvic Inflammatory disease can lead to infertility. Some women develop antibodies to a partner’s sperm. Some women have irregular ovulation cycles. A woman may have failure of the ovaries or of the pituitary gland. Endometriosis may head to infertility. Some studies suggest that long-term use of the birth control pill may also lead to infertility. A woman may have a blockage or damage to the fallopian tubes. Several conditions involving the reproductive organs, such as fibroids, an abnormal womb shape, or congenital abnormalities may also lead to infertility.

In both men and women, several things can lead to infertility, including nutritional problems, extreme stress, exposure to heavy metals, Chlamydia, the use of some prescription and illicit drugs, and smoking.

The good news for a couple experiencing infertility is that there are a variety of treatments available that may help a couple who are trying to conceive. If you believe you are experiencing infertility, contact your health care provider and she may be able to help identify the cause of infertility and correct it.

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