When a couple is unable to acquire pregnancy even after 12 months of unprotected sex and intercourse, then they are called Infertile. This type of infertility is termed as Primary infertility. There are other cases of Secondary infertility when a couple is able to get pregnant at least once but have not been able to conceive again.
The various male causes of infertility can be –
- male impotence
- hormone deficiency
- scarring from sexually transmitted diseases
- decreased sperm count
- environmental pollutants
- retrograde ejaculation
The various female causes of infertility can be –
- ovulation dysfunction
- hormone imbalance
- ovarian cysts
- pelvic infection
- movement abnormality from the cervix through the fallopian tubes
- scarring from sexually transmitted diseases
- poor nutrition
About 30% to 40% of infertility is due to male factor and 40% to 50% is due to the female factors. For the remaining cases there is no specific cause which has been determined. We can even contribute it to inputs by both the partners. A woman’s peak fertility time is her early 20s. 35 years and beyond, a woman’s chances of conception are less than 10% per month. Chances that a healthy couple under the ages of 30, having regular sex will conceive are 25% to 30% per month. About 10% to 20% couples face the problems of infertility. The causes of infertility, apart from age related, can also be multiple sex partners, past history of pelvic inflammatory disease in women, past history of orchitis or epididymitis in men, mumps in men, and eating disorder in women, anouilatory menstrual cycles, and a chronic disease like diabetes. Some birth control devices like IUD (intrauterine device) carries a great risk of future infertility and is not recommended to women who have not previously had a child. A woman using it before her first conception does it on her own risk and chances of infertility
The treatment to be carried out for infertility basically depends on the reasons for infertility. There are times when it may be treated with simple counseling and education. At times some simple medicines to promote ovulation or to treat infection may be the answer. Sometimes vitro fertilization, a very sophisticated medical procedure may be way out. The emotional consequence that a couple is facing because of infertility should most importantly be discussed and sorted out by them and help should be taken from their health care provider. The psychological impact of infertility may lead to depression, anxiety and at times even marital problems. Out of most of the infertility case, 85% to 90% cases can find a probable cause and using the treatments and helps available about 50% to 60% of them can conceive. About 15% to 20% couples also eventually get pregnant without going in for any treatment. .
Infertile couples may have to go through the following physicals examinations and tests –
- The couple has to go in for a complete physical checkup along with their medical history.
- An examination of the semen is done to determine the mass, thickness and also the count of the semen along with its motility, shape and speed.
- A biopsy of the woman’s uterine lining and also of the man’s testicles.
- Measuring basal body temperature – since higher temperature is related to ovulation.
- The cervical mucus is checked to keep tract of its wetness and stretchiness during the ovulatory period.
- Pelvic examination to check for cysts.
- Laparoscopy to have a direct visualization of the pelvis.
- Serum hormonal level test for both or either partner
- Hysterosalpingography (HSG) an X-ray to know the route taken by the sperm from the cervix through the uterus and fallopian tubes is done.
There are alternative medicine treatments which treat the patient as a whole rather than only the infertility. The alternative medical treatments like ayurveda, reiki, yoga, aromatherapy, homeopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, and acupressure work in conjunction with each other rather than individually. Although treatments such as aromatherapy, reiki, and yoga do not directly treat infertility but they definitely reduce the additional strain that infertility place on couples. Some essential oils used in aromatherapy affect nervous system, reduces blood pressure, relaxes muscles, and eliminate emotional stress. Acupressure is said to re-balance the bio-energy of the body and cures hormonal imbalance, which may cause infertility. The relationship between the mind and body cannot be ignored and this is where alternate medicines find their place.
Alternative medicine treatments should be used in combination with the scientific treatments and under the guidance of your infertility specialists. Before using the alternate medicine treatments, you must understand the strengths and limitations of this system and use them only as much is required. These treatments do give results and patients conceive but till today they have not found a universal acceptance due to lack of scientific base.