Infertility is often defined as not conceiving after one year of regular unprotected sexual intercourse, that is without the use of any birth control methods. The estimated prevalence of infertility is 8-12 % worldwide. It may result from problems concerning woman or man, or a combination of factors that interfere with pregnancy. It is not always originated from factors that affect the woman. Almost half of the cases originate from factors that affect the man.
Causes in Women
Women aged 35-40 years and older trying to conceive for 6 months or longer are under the risk of infertility. If they have irregular or no menstruation at all, very painful periods, known fertility problems, diagnosis of endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), multiple miscarriages and cancer treatment, they should consult experienced gynecologists for the risk of infertility. Nowadays, there are many safe and effective therapies that significantly improve your chances of getting pregnant. These chances can increase in the hands of experienced gynecologists. Eating disorders that lead to serious weight loss, such as anorexia and bulimia, can cause fertility problems in women. The lack of folic acid, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 in the diet can also affect the fertility. Especially, vegan women should be careful for the risk of infertility.
Causes in Men
Infertile men have usually low quantity and quality of sperm such as low sperm count, low sperm motility and abnormal sperm. This may result from following reasons:
Testicular infection, cancer, or surgery
Overheated testicles (undescended testicle, varicocele, saunas or hot tubs, tight clothes, working in hot areas)
Blocked ejaculatory duct
Hormonal imbalance (hypogonodism)
Genetic factors (Klinefelter’s syndrome)
Mumps (occurring after puberty)
Developmental anomaly (hypospadias),
Some systemic diseases (anemia, Cushing’s syndrome, diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease)
Some medications and drugs (sulfasalazine, anabolic steroids, chemotheraphy, immunosuppressive drugs, illegal drugs)
Aged 40 years and over
Known fertility problems in the family
Causes in both Men and Women
Exposure to chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and solvents), overweight or obesity, mental stress, alcohol, smoking, too much or too little exercise can lead to infertility in both men and women. In addition, sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papilloma virus, can lead to fertility problems in both women and men.
Preventable risk factors against infertility
Regular intercourse several times during the ovulation period for highest pregnancy rate (intercourse beginning at least 5 days before and until one day after ovulation, which is the halfway of the menstrual cycle)
Avoiding illegal drugs and tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption
Regular exercise, neither too much nor too little
Avoiding high temperature areas
Avoiding exposure to industrial or environmental toxins