European infertility week…what better time to start talking about infertility?

Well…I did not choose randomly the title of the article. The first full week of November has been declared the European infertility week.

And since we are on the last day of the first full week of November, I have decided that my first article on the blog should cover this topic, which is unfortunately still a taboo one for way too many.

First of all, let’s see how infertility is defined. Infertility is the diagnosis received by a couple that has been trying, for at least 12 months, to conceive a child by, having unprotected sexual intercourse.

Here are the steps that should happen correctly in order for a woman to get pregnant:

  • A mature egg is released from one of the ovaries
  • The egg travels trough the fallopian tube
  • Insemination occurs and the sperm reaches the egg and fertilizes it, travelling from the cervix up to the uterus and through the fallopian tubes
  • The fertilized egg travels to the uterus from the fallopian tube and it’s implanted and starts growing in the uterus 1

blankI did not say earlier diagnose by accident or… lack of words. This is a fact. It is a diagnose because infertility is a disease that is affecting more and more people every day. Estimations suggest that around 25% of the couples around the world are facing infertility issues. One of the biggest misconceptions is that if I couple cannot get pregnant it means that the female partner has infertility issues. This has been the general idea since…forever.

And although lots of women are facing health issues that are leading to infertility, it’s not the case in all the couples dealing with this disease. It is often the male partner that is facing infertility issues.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to blame anyone here. We just want to provide some real facts about the factors that lead to these unfortunate and difficult situations.

Female infertility:

blankA lot of medical factors can lead to infertility issues. Here are some very common ones:

  • Ovulating disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hypothalamic dysfunction, premature ovarian failure (also called primary ovarian insufficiency), high prolactin levels
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine or cervical causes
  • Tubal infertility or damaged fallopian tubes

Apart from the medical issues the women are confronting with, there are a lot of other factors that can interfere in their fertility, such as: sexually history, alcohol, smoking, weight or age.

Male infertility:

In over a third of the infertile couples, the male partner is facing health issues that are preventing them to become parents. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Infections that can interfere with sperm health or production
  • Ejaculation issues
  • Varicocele
  • Tumors
  • Undescended testicles
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Chromosome defects

Some of the risk factors for male infertility that need to be taken into account are alcohol, smoking, weight, depression or stress or the use of illicit drugs.

Unfortunately, a lot of the issues leading to infertility are discovered when it’s already a bit late, making the journey to become parents very stressful, complicated and in a lot of cases, very expensive.

However, there are some things both males and females can do to try and prevent these situations:

  • Quit smoking
  • Steer clear of illicit drugs and alcohol
  • Reduce stress
  • Keep the weight at a normal level
  • Limit caffeine

I have written this article with the hope that it will help raise awareness on this very delicate but important topic.

In case any of you, reading this article, realize that you might be confronting with infertility issues, please consult with your family doctor or OB-GYN and ask for more details and counseling in finding a good fertility specialist that can guide and support you in your journey to become parents.

Resources:

http://leavingbio.net/human-reproduction/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/female-infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20354308

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/male-infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20374773