Infertility: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Infertility occurs when a couple is unable to conceive. It can affect both men and women, and 15 percent of all couples in the United States are struggling with this issue. When a couple is unable to conceive after a year of trying, it is considered infertility. It can be the fault of either partner or a combination of both. Some medication, health problems, and even environmental factors can cause or contribute to infertility. There are treatment options available to help couples conceive.

Infertility Causes

The causes of infertility can vary. In some cases, there may be more than one cause. Sometimes, there is no clear cause for infertility. Certain diseases, birth defects, and medications can all cause problems with fertility. Some of the most common causes include:

Problems with the delivery of sperm Cigarette smoking Alcohol use Marijuana use Blockage in the testicle Damage or injury to the reproductive organs Radiation Chemotherapy Ovulation disorders Cervical or uterine abnormalities Fallopian tube blockage or damage Primary ovarian insufficiency Endometriosis Pelvic adhesions Stress Timing of intercourse There are no obvious signs of infertility, and the most common symptom is a failure to get pregnant. In women, the symptoms may include absent menstrual periods. Men may experience changes in hair growth or sexual function. If there is an underlying cause of infertility, the patient may experience symptoms of that health problem or disorder.

Infertility Diagnosis

Diagnosis infertility can be difficult. Because there are usually no symptoms of infertility aside from not getting pregnant, diagnosing the cause can take some time. Doctors use a variety of tests to determine the reason for infertility. Sometimes, the cause of infertility cannot be diagnosed. In many cases, doctors must rule out certain illnesses, diseases, or health problems to figure out the cause of infertility in each patient. Those tests include:

Tests for Men:

  • Hormone testing
  • Genetic testing
  • Semen analysis
  • Testicular biopsy
  • Imaging

Test for Women:

  • Hysterosalpingography
  • Ovulation testing
  • Ovarian reserve testing
  • Other hormone testing
  • Genetic testing
  • Hysteroscopy
  • Laparoscopy

Infertility Treatment

Treatment often depends on the cause of infertility and the overall health of the patient. In many cases, couples are able to conceive without treatment. Men and women require different types of treatments, so finding out which partner is suffering from the problem is necessary. Some common treatment options for infertility include:

  • Discontinuing certain medications
  • Reducing or eliminating harmful substances
  • Improving the frequency and timing of intercourse
  • Establishing regular exercise
  • Medications
  • Surgery
  • Sperm retrieval
  • Fertility drugs
  • Intrauterine insemination
  • Surgery

Infertility Prognosis

The prognosis for infertility depends on the underlying cause of the problem. In many cases, there is no problem, and it just takes time for the couple to conceive. In other cases, the patient will require treatment or surgery. Many couples are able to conceive with simple treatments or with fertility medications. Those who are not able to conceive on their own may have the option for in-vitro fertilization or adoption.