The Most Common Causes of Infertility and How Fertility Doctors Can Help
Infertility is heartbreaking, exhausting and an emotionally draining situation that places stress on both you and your partner.
An estimated 10 to 15 percent of American couples are infertile, which means they have not been able to conceive even though they’ve had frequent, unprotected sex for at least a year.
Among these couples, one-third of the cases are due to an issue with the woman, and a third is due to an issue with the man. The remaining third is comprised of issues affecting both the man and the woman or cases where no cause can be found.
We understand that infertility is a difficult experience, and we’re dedicated to using the latest medical technology to help you get pregnant.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Infertility?
Infertility in Men
In men, the most common causes of male infertility deal with abnormal sperm production or function. This could be anything from genetic problems to undescended testes to sexually transmitted infections.
There also may be a problem with the delivery of the sperm, caused by conditions such as premature ejaculation, testicular blockages or injuries.
If exposed for a long period of time to pesticides and other chemicals, it can affect a man’s fertility. This also includes smoking cigarettes or marijuana.
Cancer and cancer treatment can also cause difficulty with fertility.
Infertility in Women
There are several different causes for infertility in women. These include:
- Problems with Ovulation
This can include disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome, hormonal disorders, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
- Structural Abnormalities
This can include problems with the cervix or uterus, including uterine fibroids, which may block the fallopian tubes or prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.
This occurs when the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, usually around the fallopian tubes.
- Early Menopause
Sometimes, the ovaries stop working before age 40. There are several possible causes, including immune disorders and genetic conditions. Radiation and chemotherapy can also cause this.
- Being Overweight or Underweight
If you lead a sedentary lifestyle and you are overweight, this can increase the risk of infertility. In addition, those who have eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia can have difficulty conceiving.
When Should You See a Fertility Doctor?
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for at least a year, you should schedule an appointment and talk to us. However, if you’re planning on having a family and have any of the following conditions, we recommend you talk to us sooner:
- Have irregular periods
- Have absent periods
- Have extremely painful periods
- Are over 40 years old
- Are 35 or older and have been trying to conceive for six months
- Have had miscarriages
- Have undergone chemotherapy or cancer treatment
- Have been diagnosed with endometriosis
- Have pelvic inflammatory disease
In addition, men should see a specialist if they:
- Have a low sperm count
- Have had prostate problems
- Have a history of sexual problems
- Have undergone cancer treatment
- Have small testes or scrotal swelling
How Can My Fertility Doctor in Raleigh Help?
The key to treating infertility is discovering the underlying cause. This will involve a complete physical exam and testing your hormone levels. We may also evaluate the condition of your uterus and fallopian tubes. Pelvic ultrasounds can also help us discover any uterine or ovarian diseases.
Our approach to infertility treatment is influenced by several factors, including:
- The cause of the infertility
- How long you’ve been infertile
- Your age
Depending upon if the man or the woman has infertility issues, treatment may involve:
These can be geared to either improving the sperm count or stimulating ovulation through fertility drugs. The type of medicines used would depend upon the source of the fertility problem
- Transforming Lifestyle
Avoiding excessive alcohol use and smoking can help combat infertility. In addition, maintaining a healthy weight can increase your chances of getting pregnant.
- Intrauterine Insemination
During this process, healthy sperm are placed inside the uterus at the exact time an ovary releases eggs to be fertilized.
We Understand the Challenge of Infertility
We know this is a long and hard journey for many women, and we want to assure you that we are here for you both medically and psychologically. We are in your corner, helping you through the process every step of the way. We want what is best for you and your partner.
This article was reviewed by Mary Frances Moody, MD.