Infertility

 
Infertility Questions
 
 
Pregnancy is a fairly complex process for which many steps are necessary. 
  1. A woman's body must produce a viable egg from an ovary
  2. The egg must travel down the fallopian tube
  3. Viable sperm from a man must reach the fallopian tube and join with the egg while it is in the fallopian tube (only a few days)
  4. The fertilized egg must successfully attach (implant) to a wall of the woman's uterus.
 
Infertility is not being able to get pregnant when you want to. Generally, if you can't get pregnant after one year of trying, it may be time to look into treatment options for infertility, because there may be a problem with one or more of the steps above. This means that infertility can be caused by problems with the egg, the sperm, or both. 
If you want to figure out why you can't get pregnant, usually both you and your partner will be tested by a doctor. Your partner may not be producing enough sperm, or his sperm may not be active enough.
 
Women may have a problem either because they are not producing enough eggs through ovulation, or their fertilized eggs have trouble implanting in the uterus.   In most cases of female infertility, the problem is with ovulation.
 
Your doctor will first try to locate the problem, by giving you a physical exam. Then there will probably be some tests done. The doctor will first try to make sure you are ovulating each month. You will probably track your cycles at home for awhile, by measuring your body temperature regularly, and sometimes using a home ovulation test kit (available over the counter).
 
Ovulation can be affected by several conditions. Some are minor and easily corrected, such as hormone imbalance. Others, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and premature ovarian failure, which keep the ovaries from functioning normally, are more serious. 
 
If the problem isn't with ovulation, then the doctor may try to look at your reproductive organs through imaging (X-ray) or laparoscopy (minor surgery in which small tubular cameras and lights are inserted through small slits made in your abdomen).
 
Your doctor will also test a sample of your partner's semen to examine the sperm.
 
Because the problem can come from any broken link in the chain of events above, there is also no one reason that some people become infertile. One of the primary causes of infertility is simply age - as women get into their mid-to-late 30s, their eggs become less viable, and their cycles get more irregular. There are also a number of chronic conditions which can affect your fertility, and that of your partner, such as hormone imbalances, endometriosis, STDs, cancer and its treatment, and fibroids (benign tumors growing in the uterus).
 
Both men and women can also affect their fertility by their lifestyle. If you want to stay healthy and give your body the best chance to create and support another life you should:
  • Avoid heavy alcohol use
  • Avoid drugs
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid contact with toxins such as lead and pesticides
  • Have a good diet
  • Avoid stress
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise moderately
 
The treatment depends on the cause, and the personal preference of you and your partner. The various treatments include:
  • Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Artificial insemination (the injection of sperm directly into the uterus)
  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART)
 
ART can include various methods, but the most commonly used is in vitro fertilization (IVF) in which eggs are fertilized with sperm outside the body, and the created embryos are implanted in the woman's uterus by a doctor.
 
Read more on infertility at
 
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