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Infertility/Fertility – An Overview

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Infertility / Fertility related image Photo: Getty Images

As defined by the National Institute of Health (NIH), infertility is a term used for women who are unable to get pregnant and for men who are unable to impregnate a woman after at least a year of trying. A woman who can get pregnant, but who is unable to carry the baby full-term may also be considered infertile. This term is used in regards to women of childbearing age but not those of or past menopausal age.

Causes of Infertility

There can be many different reasons for infertility. Let’s start with some of the reasons for women:

Premature ovarian failure – according to the NIH, premature ovarian failure may be caused when the ovaries stop functioning before menopause.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a condition where the ovaries are not releasing the egg regularly or may not be releasing a healthy egg.

Blocked fallopian tubes – blockages in the fallopian tubes can be caused by health conditions (endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease) or surgery.

The following may affect fertility as well:

• Age
• Stress
• Poor diet
• Being overweight or underweight
• Smoking, drugs and alcohol
• Medication
• Environmental toxins
• Genetic conditions
• Other health problems (i.e., sexually transmitted diseases)

Infertility – Men

As with women, there are different reasons why men may be infertile:

• Age
• Stress
• Exposing testes to high temperatures:
o Tight underwear – increases temperature of testes and may affect fertility
o Cryptorchism – condition where testes does not descend into the scrotum
• Smoking, drugs and alcohol
• Medications
• Environmental toxins
• Genetic conditions
• Other health problems

Diagnosis and Treatment

A definite diagnosis can only be made by a qualified medical provider. If you have not been able to conceive after trying a year or more, if you have irregular cycles and/or fibroids, have had more than one miscarriage or stillbirth, or have certain genetic conditions, then see your doctor right away. Treatments will be administered based on the doctor's findings.

Resource: National Institute of Health

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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