If you have a hard time conceiving, it doesn’t mean you’re infertile.
A man or a woman is considered infertile only if they cannot achieve pregnancy after one year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse.
Regular sexual intercourse means having contact with a partner of the opposite gender at least three times a week.
Some patients who see a doctor, say, after only six months of being intimate and with the spouse living or working overseas half of that time cannot be labeled "infertile."
There has to be regular encounters in a year because some women do not ovulate every single month. A few ovulate only every other month or maybe even less.
Causes of infertility
Of those who suffer from true infertility, women account for one-third of all cases, and men, the other third.
In the remaining one-third of cases, half is due to both the man and the woman, and the other half due to unknown causes.
Common causes of female infertility
Some common factors affecting the ability for women to conceive are:
· very thick cervical mucus that blocks the entry of the sperm
· tight cervical opening
· abnormalities in the uterine cavity
· infections in the genital tract
· non-ovulatory menstrual cycles
· damage to the fallopian tubes
· endometriosis, a common condition when the tissue of the uterus grows outside of it
· advanced maternal age
Infertility in men
Paternal age is not too much of an issue because men can sire children well into their 70s.
However, other factors include:
· hormonal problems which can be traced all the way to the brain. Hypothalamic and pituitary tumors cause decreased signals sent from the brain to the gonads, thereby decreasing sperm production.
· genetic disorders
· varicoceles or swelling of the veins around the testicles
How the environment plays a role
Environmental factors also contribute to this growing problem in society.
Some of the culprits are:
· excessive radiation from the atmosphere
· exposure to lead, mercury and insecticides
· alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and designer drug use
Another culprit: too much exercise
If you think exercise is going to help, then think again.
Too much exercise leads to the decreased secretion of a follicle-stimulating hormone which is necessary for ovulation in women.
In the male athlete, long and frequent workouts lead to decreased sperm counts.
Limit exercise to 30 to 45 minute sessions three times a week.
Your chances of getting pregnant
For most couples, the chance of getting pregnant every single month is 25%.
After 3 months of trying, 60% will conceive.
At the end of one year, 85% will get a positive test result.
If you are among the 15% of couples who have tried and tried for a year or more, then see an Infertility specialist right away.
Remember, the clock is ticking.
Dr. Diana Sarmiento is a mother of three, part-time doctor, and a full-time wife and mother. The topics closest to her heart are women’s health, parenting, and any new information that she can get her hands on. Read more on her personal blog, Filipina M.D.
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