Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive a pregnancy after a significant amount of time, despite intercourse without the use of contraception. Fertility doctors typically diagnose women under the age of 35 as infertile after one full year of unprotected intercourse, while women over the age of 35 may be diagnosed after only six months. However, the causes of infertility may be directly related to female fertility problems, male fertility problems, or a combination of both.
A number of women diagnosed with infertility suffer from an ovulation problem, including premature ovarian failure and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Premature ovarian failure occurs when the ovaries stop functioning properly before natural menopause, while polycystic ovarian syndrome occurs when the ovaries do not release an egg regularly or do not release viable eggs. Additional causes for female infertility include:
- Physical problems or structural abnormalities of the uterine wall
- Uterine fibroids
- Blocked fallopian tubes due to pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, or previous surgery
It is also important to remember that certain factors may increase a woman’s risk of infertility. This includes increased age, poor diet, being overweight or underweight, increased stress, environmental toxins, certain medications, and sexually transmitted diseases. Smoking, drinking alcohol in excess, or using illicit drugs may also increase a woman’s infertility risk.
Male infertility is often attributed to a problem with the production of mature sperm or the sperm’s inability to reach and fertilize the egg. This may be caused by the inability to sustain an erection, lack of sufficient sperm, not having enough semen to carry the sperm to the egg, or sperm that are irregularly shaped or do not move in the right way. As with women, there are a number of factors that may increase a man’s risk for infertility, such as increased age, exposure of the testes to high temperatures, stress, genetic conditions, medications, and the use of tobacco and alcohol.
The most reliable way to pinpoint infertility’s cause is to consult with a fertility specialist at a fertility clinic. For high quality, professional care and for more information on your infertility treatment options, give Fertility Centers of Illinois a call at (877) 499-8730.