Infertility is the difficulty or even the inability to have a child. It can be female, male, or both. In 40% of cases, infertility originates in men and women. Almost 10 out of 100 couples will experience an infertility problem at some point in their life.
What are the possible causes of female infertility?
- An ovulation disorder (which is absent or irregular)
- A problem with the genital tract: malformation of the uterus, blocked or damaged uterine tubes due to a sexually transmitted infection
- Age: fertility drops from 37 years old
- A psychological block
How is female infertility diagnosed?
- A temperature curve to see how ovulation is going
- In the event of an abnormality on the curve, a hormonal assessment from a blood test to measure the hormones controlling ovulation
- A post-coital test or Huhner‘s test to see the quality of the cervical mucus as well as the number and mobility of sperm
- Pelvic ultrasound
- X-ray of the uterus and tubes (hysterosalpingography)
- Optionally, a laparoscopy to detect abnormalities of the tubes, ovaries and uterus that would have gone unnoticed on the x-ray
No need to be alarmed too soon, we start talking about infertility after a year of unsuccessful attempts (several reports per week).
What are the possible causes of male infertility?
- In most cases, a problem with the sperm: absence of sperm (aspermia), absent sperm (azoospermia), few (oligospermia), not sufficiently mobile (asthenospermia) or abnormal (teratospermia)
- A problem with the penis, testicles, the ability to ejaculate
- An autoimmune reaction: the body attacks its own sperm
- A psychological blockage
How is male infertility diagnosed?
- A spermogram to see the number of sperm, their mobility and their shape. The semen is collected in the laboratory after three days of abstinence because sexual activity has an influence on the quality of the semen.
- An ultrasound to see the condition of the testicles
What are the risk factors?
- A genital infection such as chlamydia
- The tobacco
- The alcohol
- A profession exposing man to strong heat sources (baker, cook, founder) and even truck driver!
- Exposure to chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, solvents, detergents, emulsifiers, plasticizers)
- The stress
How to improve your fertility?
- By quitting smoking
- By reducing your alcohol consumption
- Fleeing cannabis
- By learning to manage stress because it can block ovulation
- By eating a balanced diet because too much or too little weight can have an influence on fertility
What are the treatments for infertility?
It all depends on the origin of infertility (female / male / mixed) and its cause.
If it is female:
- An ovulation disorder can be corrected by taking medicines to stimulate ovulation. Your doctor will prescribe clomiphene citrate tablets and then, if this fails, gonadotropins for injection.
- Tubal obstruction due to infection (salpingitis) or endometriosis can be corrected with surgery.
- A uterine malformation also requires surgery.
- In polycystic ovary syndrome, infertility is treated with ovulation stimulating drugs and if this does not work, by surgery (ovarian drilling) which consists of making small incisions in the ovaries.
If the infertility is of male origin, surgery may be proposed for:
- unclog the channels through which the sperm pass
- ligate a varicocele (varicose vein on a testicle)
- collect sperm from the testicles when the ducts are blocked
A technique of medically assisted procreation (MAP) may be offered to you.
- In vitro fertilization involves bringing together the egg and sperm in the laboratory. It is recommended in the event of an obstacle in the uterine tubes, when the sperm are of poor quality or not numerous enough. IVF can be performed using eggs and sperm from the couple or from donors. This technique has been reserved for people in a relationship for at least two years. The woman must be under 42 years old.
- Artificial insemination involves introducing the sperm into the uterus. It is recommended if the sperm are of poor quality, or if the man has problems ejaculation. Couples must have lived together for at least two years.
What causes infertility
Infertility is commonly caused by problems with ovulation (the monthly release of an egg from the ovaries). Some problems stop an egg being released at all, while others prevent an egg being released during some cycles but not others. Ovulation problems can be a result of: polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) [What causes infertility] (1)