Causes of infertility
The reason for infertility may lie with the male partner, female partner or both. In general,
• Cause of infertility is with the male partner in one-third of cases
• Cause of infertility is with the female partner in one-third of cases
• Cause of infertility is with both the partners or remains unidentified in one-third of cases
Male causes of infertility
• Defective sperms:
Men may suffer from defective sperms that are either low in number or abnormal in function from the following
o Birth defects such as undescended testes
o Prior infections of the testes such as mumps
o Swelling of the testis (varicocoele)
o Injuries and physical trauma to the testes
o Chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment for cancer can damage the testes permanently and impair sperm production
o Exposure to chemicals and toxins
• Sexual problems:
• Sexual problems:
Sexual problems impair the delivery of sperms and may be seen in the following conditions
o Premature ejaculation
o Retrograde ejaculation where semen enters the bladder instead of emerging through the penis during orgasm
o Genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, impair passage of sperms through the reproductive tract
o Blockage of the tubes carrying the semen from surgery, injury or infection
Causes of female infertility:
• Ovulation disorders:
Disorders involving the ovary may prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs and cause infertility. PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that might relate to your ovaries producing too much of the male hormone testosterone, and hyperprolactinemia, when you have too much prolactin are hormonal conditions that cause ovarian dysfunction. A developmentally deficient ovary, excessive exercise, surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancers can also cause ovarian dysfunction.
• Uterine or cervical abnormalities:
The uterus may have malformations like septa or be underdeveloped and be the cause of infertility. Sometimes, fibroids may block the opening of the fallopian tubes or distort the uterine cavity and cause infertility. Cervical problems may include an abnormal cervical mucus that prevents a successful conception.
• Fallopian tube damage or blockage:
Fallopian tubes through which the egg travels to reach the uterus may be damaged from infections, endometriosis or adhesions. Tuberculosis is an important cause in India.
• Endocrine problems:
Thyroid problems, steroid related problems (Cushing's disease) and diabetes are hormonal problems that can cause infertility.
Some medications have the capacity to impair your ability to conceive. This is usually temporary and fertility may be achieved by just stopping these medicines. Make sure to bring all your medications when you visit your infertility specialist.
Laparoscopic picture showing a blocked fallopian tube that cause infertility