Infertility is the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse. Though infertility can happen to anyone at any point in life, it is more common after the age of 30.
To understand infertility issues, first it’s important to understand the basics of the human reproductive system. The sperm carries the father’s genetic material and the egg carries the mother’s genetic material. When the sperm unites with the egg, it starts the process of conception and the creation of a baby.
Eggs develop within women’s ovaries, and once a month, a mature egg is released from the ovary in a process called ovulation. The egg enters the fallopian tube, which leads to the uterus. Fertilization occurs when the man’s sperm combines with the woman’s egg in the fallopian tube. The fertilized egg (blastocyst) will reach the uterus after five to six days and will embed itself in the thickened uterine wall (endometrium). At this point, pregnancy has occurred.
CAUSES OF INFERTILITY
There are many potential causes of infertility. Problems with sperm, including low sperm count, slow mobility, and low quality, account for many infertility issues (35 – 40%), whereas issues with a woman’s reproductive system can also contribute to infertility, including ovulation problems (20%), tubal problems (20%), endometrium (10%-20%) and cervical factors (5%).
Physical factors that may cause infertility
- Gynaecologists may suggest a direct inspection of the cervix to determine if any infections and chronic inflammations are preventing conception.
- Some couples also experience difficulty during intercourse, which could have a physical origin and cause pain. Vaginismus, for example, is a serious condition where the muscles in the vagina contract and restrict entry.
- A special post-coital test called the Huhner Test examines the sperm’s ability to survive in the cervical mucus.
A couple’s medical histories can also explain infertility. Endocrine and genetic disorders, such as thyroid issues, Turner’s syndrome in women, and Klinefelter’s syndrome in men, can greatly reduce the chances of conceiving.
Our specialists work with couples to identify, understand, and overcome their infertility and build the family of their dreams.