Is Infertility a Woman's Problem?
Infertility is an unfortunate circumstance that affects the reproductive system and impairs the ability to conceive children. It is estimated that 6.1 people throughout the United States are infertile. Conception and bringing a pregnancy to term are both very complicated and both depend upon a variety of factors. First of all both are dependence on a man's ability to produce healthy and viable sperm while they are both also dependent on a woman's ability to produce healthy eggs. Conception and
pregnancy are also contingent on the fact that the fallopian tubes need to be unblocked in order to facilitate the sperm meeting the egg. Another important factor is the sperm's ability to penetrate and then fertilize an egg once they have made contact. Finally the last two factors are the ability of the fertilized egg, which is developing into an embryo to properly implant itself to the lining of the uterus and the ability for the embryo to develop as it is supposed to do.
But the concern for the pregnancy does not end there. In order for a woman to carry a baby to full term the embryo must be as healthy as possible and it must follow a growth cycle. This is affected by how healthy a woman's hormonal environment is. If any of the above factors is compromised in one way or another, infertility can be the consequence.
It is commonly assumed by society that infertility is a woman's problem, however this is not always the case. Approximately one third of all cases of infertility are attributed to females. In one third of the cases the problem is attributed to males and the other one third is generally either a combination of factors related to both partners or in some cases, the cause of infertility is not known. An estimated 20 percent of infertility cases are connected to unknown causes. Regardless of where the source of infertility lies, this is a problem that negatively impacts both partners.
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If the physician reaches this point and has not yet determined the cause for the infertility then diagnostic tests will need to be run on both partners to learn more. Besides the medical history and physical exam, the man may need to undergo blood tests that look for a variety of diseases or hormonal imbalances. If those yield nothing out of the ordinary then a semen sample will need to be taken. The sample will assess the volume of semen the man has as well as infertility diet the number of sperm and how mobile the sperm are.
The physical for a man can be uncomfortable but it is essential in order to look for any signs that a problem exists such as decreased body hair for example. The contents of the scrotum will need to be palpated while the patient is standing up while the peritesticular area need also be scrutinized. Some things a doctor will look for are irregularities of the epididymis, tenderness or the presence of cysts.
The two most common reasons for male infertility are azoospermia (which is a condition where there are no sperm cells produced at all) and oligospermia (which is when there are only a minimum of sperm cells produced). In some instances, sperm cells do not form properly or else they die before they are able to reach an egg and fertilize it. There are rare cases where a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis or a chromosomal abnormality is to blame for male infertility.
The most common cause of female infertility is a disorder related to ovulation. An other common cause of female infertility is blocked fallopian tubes, which can take place due to endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Repeated miscarriages are often linked to birth defects (or congenital anomalies), which can involve
problems with the structure or makeup of the uterus and/or uterine fibroids. Age also plays a role in a woman's ability to conceive. A woman's fertility begins to decline slightly at age 30 and then takes a significant drop at age 35. After age 40 a woman has a one in ten chance of getting pregnant. The ovaries decline in their ability to produce eggs as a woman advances in years, and this is most readily seen after the age of 35.
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