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Infertility – Basic Information

Infertility is a result of abnormal functioning of the female and male reproductive systems and is recognized as a disease. It is defined as the inability to conceive (get pregnant) or carry pregnancy to term after a year of having regular sex without contraception. In fact, there is no definite cutoff point to determine when a couple is infertile. Most couples take several months to conceive, whereas some conceive within a year or two of trying. It is worth seeing a doctor if pregnancy hasn’t occurred after one year of trying, if the woman is under 35 years of age, or 6 months if the woman is over 35, or if you’ve had more than one miscarriage. The doctor will perform a complete workup for fertility and diagnosis.

Fertility issues in women may be due to 2 major problems: ovulation disorders and fallopian tube or womb problems. Ovulation disorder, which is the cause of infertility in about every 3 out of 10 couples, can be due to:

  •  Polycystic ovary syndrome (often associated with menstrual problems, excessive hair growth and being overweight)
  •  Hormonal problems (too much prolactin or too little thyroxine)
  • Chronic illnesses (uncontrolled diabetes, kidney failure or cancer)
  • Side effect of chemotherapy medicines
  • Being extremely overweight or underweight (this affects hormonal balance and consequently ovulation)
  •  Excessive exercise (can also affect hormonal balance)
  • Certain genetic problems with the ovaries.

Women with ovulation disorders are effectively treated with fertility drugs, such as Clomid. The drug is designed to trigger the pituitary gland to release hormones that stimulate follicle growth and development of an egg. It is a short-term treatment and should be taken orally for 5 days of the menstrual cycle. If a woman’s eggs are of a good quality and there are no other fertility problems, the drug can pave the way to pregnancy.

Fallopian tube and womb problems, which cause infertility in about 2 out of every 10 couples, can be due to:

  • Endometriosis (when tissue which normally lines the womb starts growing outside, affecting uterus, ovaries and nearby structures)
  •  Infection of the womb and Fallopian tubes (caused by Chlamydia or other species and leading to pelvic inflammatory disease)
  • Large fibroids (benign growth of the uterus)
  • Surgeries to uterus, cervix or Fallopian tubes.

Male infertility is in most cases caused by sperm problems or unknown factors. Other infertility problems in both genders can be due to age, stress and hereditary factors.

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