Little Pampered Babies

Signs of Infertility

Summary:Infertility is a problem faced by many couples, and it’s important to notice the signs and to know when to seek medical help. Getting pregnant involves many organs, hormones and processes that must all work together just right to create a pregnancy.

Both men and women can be infertile, and there are certain signs that should put up a red flag to go see a doctor. Most importantly, many factors and causes of infertility are things that can be controlled by the individual’s lifestyle and choices. It is important to note, however, that there is no clear, easy checklist to diagnose infertility. According to the Mayo Health Clinic website, the only clear symptom of being infertile is not being able to get pregnant. Overall, the best thing a man or woman can do to boost fertility is to create healthy habits and avoid unhealthy behaviors.

For women, infertility focuses around problems with the ovaries, uterus and the processes of ovulation and implantation of the fertilized egg. Without getting too technical, there are two main hormones FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Luteinizing Hormone) that control ovulation, which is the releasing of an egg into the fallopian tube.

Once the egg is released, the sperm can fertilize it in the fallopian tube and from there the zygote (fertilized egg and first cell of a human being) will travel to the uterus and implant in the wall to begin development. There are some cases where factors of infertility are out of the woman’s control, such as with cancer and its treatment or uterine fibroids (common in women in their 30’s). Infections can also cause scar tissue known as pelvic adhesions which can physically hamper fertilization, and any surgery done on reproductive organs could cause problems. Hormone problems, sometimes caused by benign tumors on the pituitary gland in the brain, can also interfere with ovulation.

Also, age is an important factor. Women over the age of 32 should be aware that their eggs are getting older, and are at risk of having pregnancies with chromosomal abnormalities.Aside from these instances, there are also specific risk factors that can be avoided. Many STD’s (Sexually Transmitted Disease) such as HIV/AIDS can affect a woman’s fertility. One example is Chlamydia, which causes inflammation in the fallopian tubes that can block a fertilized egg from going down to the uterus and implanting. This can lead to an ectopic pregnancy, which is when a fertilized egg implants anywhere other than the lining of the uterus. Unfortunately, ectopic pregnancies cannot survive. Avoiding risky behaviors that can lead to STD infection is a must for reproductive health. Other controllable risk factors are: smoking, alcohol use, being overweight or underweight and excessive exercise. Smoking, as we all know, is never healthy. It may contribute to infertility and increases the chances of having a miscarriage. If you’re a woman trying to get pregnant, alcohol should be avoided as it interferes with the body’s natural chemical processes. Controlling your weight is not only healthy for your heart, but will also help reproductive health. On a side note, vegetarians and vegans need to make sure they get enough vitamin B-12, zinc, iron and folate in their diet, which can be done simply with a daily supplement. Exercising too much can interfere with the menstrual cycle, so if you’re periods are irregular or not occurring at all, you should contact your doctor. You may need to modify your exercise schedule.

For men, fertility problems focus on the production of sperm and the transportation of sperm from the testes to the uterus. There are many possible causes, some are beyond control but others can be treated. Just as with women, age is an important factor as men over the age of 35 are shown to have gradually decreasing fertility. Spermatogenesis occurs in the testes at a temperature of about 95 degrees. Therefore, the normal body temperature of 98.6 is too high for sperm to be produced, and this is why the testes hang away from the body in the scrotum. That being said, anything that causes too much heat around the testes can interfere with male fertility. Men, don’t spend too much time in a hot tub or sauna if you and your wife are trying to get pregnant. There are many environmental factors that are damaging to fertility, such as pesticides and chemicals, lead exposure, alcohol and drugs. Limit your exposure to herbicides and insecticides, as these can cause female hormone-like effects in the male body which will, of course, affect sperm production and could even cause testicular cancer. Use of drugs such as cocaine, marijuana and smoking tobacco have been shown to lower sperm count and reduce the quality of sperm produced. Other factors are malnutrition, obesity, cancer and its treatment and even emotional stress. Aside from cancer, men can take steps to fight the other factors. A regular, healthy exercise routine along with a balanced diet will help control your weight and reduce stress.

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