Infertility in women has been on the rise. With aging and exposure to everyday stresses, it has become harder for women to conceive. Being infertile doesn’t necessarily translate to not being able to have a child, rather with appropriate treatment most couples can experience the joy of parenthood. Infertility is defined as not able to conceive even after a year of trying to conceive without the use of any contraception.
Infertility is a complex disorder and can have multiple causative factors:
Ovulation disorders: In women, one of the ovaries produces one egg per month, which travels down the fallopian tube and fertilizes with the sperm. This then implants in the uterus. Ovulation disorders occur when this process is hindered. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of infertility. It affects ovulation, causes hormonal imbalance, obesity, insulin resistance, and male pattern hair growth. Sometimes, an autoimmune malfunction causes the body’s cells to attack the ovum, and this causes premature ovarian failure and failure of production a healthy egg.
Hormonal Imbalance: Hormones are compounds that direct the production and timely release of the ovum. A disruption in the functioning of the pituitary gland (because of weight gain or loss) can reduce the reproductive hormone levels. Another reason is the abnormal rise in the pregnancy hormone prolactin, which represses the ovaries and causes infertility.
Structural Damage: Damage or blockage to the fallopian tubes can interfere with the process of fertilization. These problems could occur post surgery or due to pelvic diseases.
Uterine Issues: Endometriosis is a condition resulting in infertility in which the uterine tissue grows in excess and grows in wrong places, which need to be surgically removed. Sometimes the uterus forms small polyps or has an unusual shape that obstructs implantation.
Cervical problems: Some women have a narrow cervix or do not produce enough mucus that might lead to infertility.
-If you are under 35 years of age, you should visit an infertility clinic if not being able to conceive for a year.
-However, if you’re above 35, fix an appointment after 6 months of trying.
-A blood test can be done to check for hormone levels and pelvic scanning (ultrasound, laparoscopy, or biopsy) can be done to uncover structural abnormalities.
-Most women experience guilt and frustration when diagnosed with infertility. It is important for the partner to acknowledge the emotional repercussions that occur and discuss the possibility of counseling.
The course of treatment opted by the doctor is influenced by the underlying cause of infertility:
Medication: The doctor may prescribe fertility restoration drugs to treat hormonal imbalance that causes irregular ovulation. Drugs like Clomid, Gonadotropins, Metformin, etc. mimic the role of hormones in the body. Risk factors associated with such drugs are multiple pregnancies (they stimulate the production of more than 1 egg), long-term ovarian cancer, and ovarian swelling and pain.
Surgery: Women opt to go under the knife to treat infertility because of its high success rates. Surgery is used to remove polyps in the uterus (hysteroscopic surgery), unclog the fallopian tube, and rectify damage (tubal surgeries).
Assisted Reproductive Techniques: When other therapies are not effective, a couple can turn to the wide range of assisted reproductive techniques that facilitate conception. Intrauterine insemination (directly injecting sperms into the uterus), in vitro fertilization (fertilization takes place in a lab and fertilized egg/eggs are injected into the uterus) and egg donation, are some of the popular treatment options.
One’s lifestyle and diet largely influence infertility.
-Avoid alcohol, smoking, drugs, sexual lubricants, or even wearing a tight underwear.
-Take adequate rested and exercise regularly; obesity can also reduce the production of eggs.
-Reduce stress levels by opting for yoga or meditation, spending time with loved ones or opting for a hobby.
-Eat a diet rich in whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
-Keep mobile phones, laptops, and other radiation emitting devices away from the abdomen as the effects of the same on fertility seem to be controversial.