Infertility is a condition of your reproductive system that causes people to be unable to get pregnant (conceive). Infertility can affect anyone and has many causes. Getting pregnant involves several steps:
- Your brain must produce reproductive hormones that control ovarian function.
- An egg must mature in your ovary.
- Your ovary must release an egg (ovulation).
- Your fallopian tube must pick up the egg.
- Sperm must travel up your vagina and through the uterus to your fallopian tube.
- The sperm fertilizes the egg to create an embryo.
- The embryo travels through your fallopian tube to the uterus where it implants.
A pregnancy can’t occur if anything in this process doesn’t happen.
If you’re younger than 35, your healthcare provider may diagnose infertility after one year (12 months) of trying to conceive. Trying to conceive is defined as having regular, unprotected sex. If you’re 35 or older, your provider may diagnose infertility after six months of regular, unprotected sex.
Infertility is more common than you might think. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available for people who wish to begin or expand their family.
The main sign of infertility is being unable to get pregnant after six months or one year of regular, unprotected sex. You may not have any other symptoms. But some people may show physical symptoms such as:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain.
- Irregular vaginal bleeding, irregular periods or no periods.
- Penile disorders or issues with ejaculation.
Some causes of infertility affect just one partner, while others affect both partners. Risk factors for infertility include:
- Age, particularly being in your late 30s or 40s. For men, age begins affecting fertility closer to 50.
- Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- Exposure to environmental toxins, such as chemicals, lead and pesticides.
- Radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Smoking and using tobacco products. (This behavior plays a role in about 13% to 15% of infertility cases.)
- Substance abuse.
- Having obesity or being underweight.
- Abnormalities of the hormone-producing centers of your brain (hypothalamus or pituitary).
- Chronic conditions and diseases.
Infertility causes for women and people assigned female at birth
Ovulation disorders are the most common cause of infertility in people with ovaries. Ovulation is the process in which your ovary releases an egg to meet sperm for fertilization.
These factors can contribute to female infertility:
- Structural abnormalities of your vagina, uterus or fallopian tubes.
- Autoimmune conditions like celiac disease or lupus.
- Kidney disease.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
- Hypothalamic and pituitary gland disorders.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Primary ovarian insufficiency or poor egg quality.
- Sickle cell anemia.
- Uterine fibroids or uterine polyps.
- Thyroid disease.
- Prior surgical sterilization (tubal ligation or salpingectomy).
- Genetic or chromosomal disorders.
- Sexual dysfunction.
- Surgical or congenital absence of your ovaries.
- Infrequent or absent menstrual periods.
Infertility causes for men and people assigned male at birth
The most common cause of male infertility involves problems with the shape, movement (motility) or amount (low sperm count) of sperm.
Other causes of male infertility include:
- Enlarged veins (varicocele) in your scrotum, the sac that holds your testicles.
- Genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis.
- Chromosomal disorders, such as Klinefelter syndrome.
- High heat exposure to your testicles from tight clothing, frequent use of hot tubs and saunas, and holding laptops or heating pads on or near your testes.
- Injury to your scrotum or testicles.
- Low testosterone (hypogonadism).
- Misuse of anabolic steroids.
- Sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction, an ejaculation, premature ejaculation or retrograde ejaculation.
- Undecided testicles.
- Previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
- Surgical or congenital absence of testes.
- Prior surgical sterilization (vasectomy).
You can take these steps to protect your fertility, especially while trying to conceive:
- Eat a well-balanced diet and maintain a weight that’s healthy for you.
- Don’t smoke, misuse drugs or drink alcohol.
- Get treated for STIs.
- Limit exposure to environmental toxins.
- Stay physically active, but don’t overdo exercise.
- Don’t delay conception until an advanced age.
- Undergo fertility preservation procedures (freezing eggs or sperm).
Many of the conventional treatments may cause side-effects. The most common side-effects are mood changes, nausea, vomiting, and painful swelling in the ovaries or increased risk of premature twins. Homeopathy, on the other hand, offers a safe, effective and side-effect free solution for infertility treatment.