The inability to become pregnant after 1 year of sexual activity without contraception. Infertility occurs in 10 to 15% of all couples. Female fertility depends on normal functioning of the reproductive tract and the production of hormones necessary for normal sexual development and functioning. About 40 to 50% of all infertility is attributed to the female.
FREQUENT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Inability to conceive.
- Anatomic abnormalities of the reproductive system.
- Emotional stress.
- Repeated weight gain/weight loss cycle.
- Hormone dysfunction, especially thyroid disorders.
- Disorders of the cervix, such as infection, laceration or tearing from previous childbirth or narrowing of the cervical opening for any reason.
- Amenorrhea (lack of menstrual periods) caused by strenuous exercise programs or nutritional disorders (bulimia or anorexia nervosa).
- Chemical changes in the cervical mucus.
- Ovarian cysts.
- The use of some medications, including oral contraceptives (e.g., Depo-Provera). A large number of women cannot conceive for many months after discontinuing use.
- Intrauterine device (IUD) (possibly).
- Disorders probably not related to infertility include: a tilted uterus; small fibroid tumors of the uterus; or inability to achieve sexual orgasm.
RISK INCREASES WITH
- Diabetes mellitus.
- Marital discord and infrequent sexual intercourse.
- Genital disorders.
- Drugs of abuse, such as heroin.
- Obtain treatment for any treatable disorder that causes infertility.
- Avoid preventable causes of infertility.
- Some fertility problems are minor and reversible. Approach treatment with optimism.
- Research into this area is offering new options to couples.
- Psychological distress, including feelings of guilt, inadequacy and loss of self-esteem.
- Treatment costs are high and often not covered by insurance.
- The unknown and possible long-term effects of medications used to increase fertility.
- Excessive bleeding due to anticoagulant medications
- Diagnostic tests may include laboratory blood tests; pelvic examination; hysterosalpingogram (s-ray study of the genital tract); postcoital test (PCT), which is a study of the cervical mucus performed 2 to 12 hours after intercourse; endometrial biopsy to rule out luteal phase defect (a defect in hormone production) and possibly others.
- Surgical diagnostic procedures, such as laparoscopy (use of a small lighted telescope) to examine reproductive organs.
- Psychotherapy or counseling, if marital problems exist.
- Surgery to correct any reproductive system abnormalities, your ovulation pattern. Have intercourse just before ovulation, which can be determined from the chart.
- Don’t use a lubricant during sexual relations. Lubricants may interfere with sperm mobility.
- Your partner should withdraw his penis quickly from your vagina after ejaculation. If left in, it reduces the number of sperms that can swim toward the egg.
- After your partner’s ejaculation, place pillows under your buttocks to provide an easier downhill swim of the sperm.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Worry and tension may contribute to infertility.
- Alternate pregnancy methods include in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in which eggs from the female are harvested, impregnated with sperm from the male, and implanted in the uterus; GIFT or ZIFT (gamate or zygote intrafallopian transfer) which are implant procedures involving female egg and male sperm; and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), whereby a single sperm is injected into a single egg and the resulting zygote is transferred to the uterus.
Exercise moderately. Over exercising may contribute to infertility.
Eat a normal, well-balanced diet. If you are overweight, try to achieve your ideal weight.