Infertility is the biggest enemy of parenthood, disallowing two individuals to start one of the most beautiful chapters of their life. There are several causes of infertility in males and females, which we will discuss in this article. In women, infertility is caused by problems with the ovulation system. Among the causes of infertility in men, the most prevalent is the low quality of semen. Infertility comprises a set of different health issues and conditions that disorient the reproductive system in males and females.
However, the list of causes for infertility in males and females does not end here. Even with the number of saddening causes, there is still hope, as the medical sciences have several safe and effective treatment options.
Causes of Infertility in Women
Infertility is diagnosed when two individuals fail to conceive through the natural process for a continuous period of 12 months. Here are the causes of infertility in women;
Failure to ovulate is one of the major causes of infertility in women. Around 40% of women are not able to conceive due to this issue. However, there are several reasons for this;
- The incidence of Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a leading cause of ovulation failure. Going further, there is no exact reason for PCOS as here, too, several factors are responsible for the manifestation of this condition.
- Aging is another cause of ovulation failure, and it’s a natural process wherein the ovulation system transcends into a diminished ovarian reserve phase. Here the number of ovaries reduces substantially with time and age.
- Endocrine diseases like the thyroid have a negative impact on hormones. As a result, the body has too much or too less hormones affecting the ovulation cycle and system.
- Some peculiar lifestyle changes and environmental changes can also have a negative effect on the ovulation system.
Menstrual Cycle Issues
The menstrual cycle is responsible for making a female’s body ready for pregnancy. While the day-to-day problems with the menstrual cycle are often ignored, you never know how quickly it can become an irreversible issue.
As you may know that the menstrual cycle has several phases, which advance with age and body health. Issues in the phases during the age when getting pregnant is easier can cause infertility.
Hence, as a woman, you must always take note of your menstrual cycle. Ensure that every menstrual cycle completes at the right time.
Health and Structural Issues with the Female Reproductive System
By structural problems, we mean the presence of unwanted and abnormal tissues in the fallopian tubes and uterus. Blockage in the fallopian tubes won’t allow the egg to reach its destination for fertilisation.
Hence, addressing these structural problems can resolve the more significant issue at hand. However, the process of solving structural problems can differ based on the actual issue. Some common conditions leading to structural changes and causing fertility problems include;
- Endometriosis: Tissue builds up along the insides of the uterus.
- Uterine Fibroids: Small growths start to appear on the walls of the uterus leading to miscarriages or inability to get pregnant.
- Polyps Formation: These are non-cancerous growths forming inside the uterus’s surface. While polyps don’t cause issues with getting pregnant, they won’t allow a woman to stay pregnant.
- Injuries and Scarring: Any sort of degressive injuries and scarring in the uterus can also cause the fertility problem.
The incidence of Primary Ovarian Insufficiency or PCOS can also lead to infertility in women. There is no exact cause of early menopause, yet it can disorient the female reproductive system causing infertility.
Infections in the Reproductive System
Women and men suffering from infections in their reproductive system can also fall prey to infertility. In women, gonorrhoea and chlamydia, when left untreated, can cause pelvic inflammatory conditions. This can block the fallopian tubes through scarring.
Infections like syphilis can also render a woman without motherhood. Untreated syphilis can increase the risk of stillbirth. So women need to be extra careful about getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
In addition to these infections, other chronic infections stemming from the cervix or surgical treatment are known to cause human papillomavirus (HPV) infections.
A host of other conditions can also lead to infertility, including sickle cell anaemia, and thyroid and pituitary gland disorders. Given the wide range of conditions that can cause infertility, always stay cautious when diagnosed with any of the above-listed conditions. Consult your gynaecologist at the first instance of being diagnosed and start an effective treatment.
Causes of Infertility in Men
The main difference between male and female infertility is the form of incapability to reproduce. Female infertility is often connected to their inability to get fertile eggs; male infertility is when a man is not able to impregnate the egg. Here are some major causes of infertility in men.
Issues Related to Sperm
Sperm production and function are two conditions that can render a man infertile as they can no longer ejaculate sperm that binds with the egg. These two conditions manifest due to several other reasons, including;
- Undescended testicles
- Genetic disorders
- Health issues (diabetes or STIs)
Moreover, when the veins in the testes are enlarged or inflamed, it can affect the quality of the sperm. Low-quality sperm has a direct relation with male infertility.
Besides low-quality sperm, a low sperm count can also become a cause of infertility. A low count means no sperm or less sperm is ejaculated, which is not enough to reach the egg and fertilise. Plus, male fertility can also be affected in case of abnormal sperm.
When sperm takes an abnormal shape, in that case as well, infertility can be diagnosed as it becomes difficult for the sperm to move and fertilise the egg.
In addition to all the factors above, issues with the sperm can arise in case of overheated testicles. Overheating can be a result of undescended testicles, varicocele, presence of varicose veins in the scrotum. Excessive use of hot tubs, saunas, working in hot environments, and even wearing tight clothes can overheat the testicles.
Issues With the Testicles
Testicles in males store and produce sperm. Damaged or infectious testicles can affect sperm quality, function, and count. In addition to infections, problems in the testicles can also arise from testicular cancer, any prior past surgery, or a congenital defect.
In another form of infertility, some men choose to go for sterilisation through vasectomy. In this, they cannot have any more children as the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles are cut and sealed.
Other Causes of Infertility in Men
While the above two points represent the major causes of infertility, there are other causes, including;
- Genetics: Any genetic defect causing issues with the male reproductive system can result in infertility. Males have X and Y chromosomes, but if any male has two X and one Y chromosome, it’s called Klinefelter Syndrome. As a result, the testicles won’t develop properly.
- Hypospadias: Another form of congenital abnormality where the Urethral Opening goes under the penis. Normally, the Urethral Opening is present at the tip of the penis. Doctors conduct surgery to correct this anomaly, but usually, it happens during infancy.
- Fibrosis: A chronic disease resulting in sticky mucus affecting the lungs. In this, the males might also be without vas deferens. In both cases, the sperm cannot reach the egg for fertilisation.
These are some of the major causes of infertility in men. With timely diagnosis and effective treatment, you can get rid of some of these conditions, but it will require consulting with the right medical team.
Is Lifestyle one of the Causes of Infertility in Males and Females?
Yes, some types of lifestyles are among the causes of infertility in men and women. Some lifestyles are not suitable for a healthy sperm count. Continuous smoking significantly increases the risk of infertility, and this happens in both males and females. Moreover, smoking in pregnancy also increases the risk of losing pregnancy.
In addition to smoking, individuals who have undergone chemotherapy or radiation can result in ovarian failure and reduced sperm count. Age is a crucial factor in getting pregnant. Hence females over 35 years of age are less likely to get pregnant compared to females of lesser age.
Individuals who have built a habit of taking narcotics drugs like cocaine and cocaine can experience lower sperm count. Moreover, men and women who are prey to consistent stress can experience issues while trying to conceive.
Being obese or doing too much exercise has also been linked with lower sperm count and ineffective female ovulation, which causes pregnancy problems. Also, women with diabetes, especially Type 1 diabetes, can find it difficult to get pregnant. Lastly, excessive consumption of alcohol has also been linked with infertility. Moreover, alcohol consumption can also cause issues with In-Vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments.
While infertility is a big problem restricting couples from experiencing parenthood, effective treatments are available. Taking into account the common causes of infertility in males and females, several types of targeted cures are available. At Santokh Hospital, we strive to help couples experience parenthood by helping them get the best advice and treatment.
Book your appointment today with Santokh Hospital and consult with the best gynaecologists and reproductive endocrinologists.