Infertility is the inability of a couple to become pregnant after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse. Infertility is a problem that involves both partners. It should be understood that chances of getting pregnant drops, as a woman gets older, fewer women become pregnant in the first 12 months when they are more than 35 years
Couples should consult a doctor after a year of trying to conceive unsuccessfully, which is the main sign of infertility.
Common problems for infertility with men include:
- Low sperm count
- Poor sperm motility
- Malformed sperm
- Blocked sperm ducts
- Sexual problems such as impotence – the inability to get or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse
- Hormone problems
- Sperm antibodies
- Abnormal shape
Common problems for infertility with women include:
- Irregular ovulation (release of eggs)
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Abnormalities in the cervix or uterus
- Having irregular periods – this may indicate problems with ovulation or due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- Past pelvic infection
- Unusual pain with intercourse or when you have your periods, possibly due to Endometriosis
For men, the most common cause of infertility in the couple is with the sperm, and for women the most common cause of infertility factor is an ovulation disorder.
The type of treatment one may undergo depend on individual’s situation, doctor recommendations, and preferences. The treatment that is best for a couple will depend on what is causing the problem.
Sometimes simple medication will help or one might need surgery with a laparoscope, treatment for ovulation problems. Fertility treatments can be grouped into three categories:
Medicines to improve fertility – Can be used alone or in addition to assisted conception. Medicines are mainly used to help with ovulation.
Surgical treatments – these may be used when a cause of the infertility is found that may be helped by an operation. For Fallopian tube problems, Endometriosis, Polycystic ovary syndrome, Fibroids, Male infertility
Assisted conception – this includes several techniques such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilisation (IVF), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI),Egg donation, Embryo donation
Each of these is discussed briefly below considering treatment for Men and Women separately.
Treatment for Men
- Treating infections- are directed towards treating infection in reproductive tract
- Treatments for sexual intercourse problems(Erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation)
- Hormone treatments and medications
- Surgery-Sperm may often be retrieved directly from the testicles, where no sperm are present in the ejaculate.
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART)– obtaining sperm through normal ejaculation, surgical extraction or from donor individuals, depending on your specific case and wishes. The sperm is then inserted into the female genital tract or used to perform in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Treatment for Women
- Stimulating ovulation-fertility drugs can be used to regulate or induce ovulation.
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI) – A procedure where healthy sperm that have been collected and concentrated are placed directly in the uterus around the time the woman’s ovary releases one or more eggs to be fertilized
- Surgery to restore fertility