Every woman is born with a set number of eggs, which declines as she ages. To get pregnant, an egg released from a woman’s ovaries must be fertilized by sperm, travel down the fallopian tube, and attach to the side of her uterus. At any stage along the way, a problem may occur, resulting in a case of infertility. For women, the most common causes of infertility are primary ovarian insufficiency (early menopause), ovulation disorders affecting egg release, uterine or cervical abnormalities, endometriosis (where tissue grows outside of the uterus), fallopian tube blockage or damage, polycystic ovary syndrome, and various hormonal imbalances. Certain cancers and their treatments can also negatively impact a woman’s fertility.
While PGD was originally designed to screen for embryos carrying hereditary genetic diseases, the method has been applied to select features that are unrelated to diseases, thus raising ethical questions. Examples of such cases include the selection of embryos based on histocompatibility (HLA) for the donation of tissues to a sick family member, the diagnosis of genetic susceptibility to disease, and sex selection.
Cancer. Although some early studies suggested there may be a link between certain medications used to stimulate egg growth and the development of a specific type of ovarian tumor, more-recent studies do not support these findings. There does not appear to be a significantly increased risk of breast, endometrial, cervical or ovarian cancer after IVF.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process of fertilisation where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro ("in glass"). The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman's ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman's ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a liquid in a laboratory. After the fertilised egg (zygote) undergoes embryo culture for 2–6 days, it is implanted in the same or another woman's uterus, with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.
A risk of ovarian stimulation is the development of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, particularly if hCG is used for inducing final oocyte maturation. This results in swollen, painful ovaries. It occurs in 30% of patients. Mild cases can be treated with over the counter medications and cases can be resolved in the absence of pregnancy. In moderate cases, ovaries swell and fluid accumulated in the abdominal cavities and may have symptoms of heartburn, gas, nausea or loss of appetite. In severe cases patients have sudden excess abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and will result in hospitalisation.
In humans, infertility is the inability to become pregnant after one year of intercourse without contraception involving a male and female partner. There are many causes of infertility, including some that medical intervention can treat. Estimates from 1997 suggest that worldwide about five percent of all heterosexual couples have an unresolved problem with infertility. Many more couples, however, experience involuntary childlessness for at least one year: estimates range from 12% to 28%. Male infertility is responsible for 20–30% of infertility cases, while 20–35% are due to female infertility, and 25–40% are due to combined problems in both parts. In 10–20% of cases, no cause is found. The most common cause of female infertility is ovulatory problems, which generally manifest themselves by sparse or absent menstrual periods. Male infertility is most commonly due to deficiencies in the semen, and semen quality is used as a surrogate measure of male fecundity.
Gene mutations in men and obscure viruses in women can cause infertility. Here’s a basic list of the most commonly known reasons men and women can’t get pregnant, plus four research studies that describe lesser known causes of male and female fertility problems. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than a year,… Read More »Causes of Infertility for Men and Women Who Can’t Get Pregnant
In order for pregnancy to happen, sperm has to meet the egg. This normally takes place at the end of the fallopian tube, and this is called fertilization. There are a number of obstacles that can prevent this from happening, and the process itself even in healthy young fertile women is very complex- hence the low pregnancy rate each month. Obstacles such as cycle timing, low sperm count, poor sperm motility, blocked fallopian tubes, or endometriosis must be overcome to achieve a pregnancy. Timing is often the most common obstacle to conception. What does it mean for you when common causes of infertility are ruled out and you’re told you have unexplained infertility? It should mean a time of hope.
It is possible that a significant contributor to unexplained infertility can be attributed to changes in sperm epigenetics. Methylation patterns in sperm DNA which affect the expression of various genes may be the missing link for this unique patient population. By employing epigenetic analysis, we may be able to identify more causes of infertility and suggest the optimal course of therapy. Preliminary evidence even suggests that these epigenetic signatures influence the probability of conception, embryogenesis, and successful carrying of pregnancy to term. Future research on sperm epigenetics holds the promise of revolutionizing reproductive medicine and empowering patients in the process.
Take a look at your lifestyle. Have any of your habits changed since you conceived baby number one? For instance, is your diet still on track, or is there room for improvement? Getting your eating plan up to baby-making speed may help you close in faster on conception. Has your caffeine consumption gone up now that you’re a mom? That’s understandable, but too much caffeine isn’t great for fertility. Has your smoking habit returned? If yes, it’s time to kick butt, since smoking ages your eggs and decreases fertility. Are you getting way too little sleep? That may be likely, especially if your first child is keeping you up at night, but skimping on sleep can mess with your hormones — and possibly your fertility. If any new unhealthy habit has slipped into your lifestyle, now’s a great time to put the brakes on it. And it’s not just about your habits. Is your partner kicking back one too many beers each night? That could be affecting his sperm quality. Ditto for smoking or an unhealthy diet. If your partner’s lifestyle needs a little fine-tuning, make efforts to get his back on track, too.
The treatment options for unexplained infertility are several and the treatment results are promising. Expectant management can be recommended if the woman is under 28-30 years of age and the infertility duration is less than 2-3 years. In vitro fertilization (IVF) has revolutionized the treatment of infertile couples, as well as profoundly increasing the basic understanding of human reproduction. IVF can be used as both a diagnostic and a therapeutic tool in couples with unexplained infertility. The pregnancy rates with IVF are good, at 40% per treatment cycle. In addition, the outcome of pregnancies among women with unexplained infertility is generally comparable to that of spontaneous and other pregnancies using assisted reproductive technologies.
Alternatives to donating unused embryos are destroying them (or having them implanted at a time where pregnancy is very unlikely), keeping them frozen indefinitely, or donating them for use in research (which results in their unviability). Individual moral views on disposing leftover embryos may depend on personal views on the beginning of human personhood and definition and/or value of potential future persons and on the value that is given to fundamental research questions. Some people believe donation of leftover embryos for research is a good alternative to discarding the embryos when patients receive proper, honest and clear information about the research project, the procedures and the scientific values.
For women, problems with fertilisation arise mainly from either structural problems in the Fallopian tube or uterus or problems releasing eggs. Infertility may be caused by blockage of the Fallopian tube due to malformations, infections such as chlamydia or scar tissue. For example, endometriosis can cause infertility with the growth of endometrial tissue in the Fallopian tubes or around the ovaries. Endometriosis is usually more common in women in their mid-twenties and older, especially when postponed childbirth has taken place.
Gonadotropins are another drug used to trigger ovulation. Gonadotropins are used if other drugs are not successful or if many eggs are needed for infertility treatments. Gonadotropins are given in a series of shots early in the menstrual cycle. Blood tests and ultrasound exams are used to track the development of the follicles. When test results show that the follicles have reached a certain size, another drug may be given to signal a follicle to release its matured egg.
With each year that passes, your chances of conceiving decrease significantly, says Julie Tan, M.D., a gynecologist at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Reproductive Medicine, in Ohio. Sometimes even doctors downplay infertility, she notes. Most experts recommend seeing your doc after a year of unsuccessful unprotected sex if you're under age 35 and after six months if you're over 35. But if you're worried sooner, speak up. "If it's been three months and you're concerned, it's not too early to get evaluated, even though it may be premature to treat," explains Dr. Grifo. "Waiting a year to find out there's an issue with sperm count or egg supply can lead to a lot of heartache." You can start with your primary-care doc or ob-gyn but if you're not pregnant after a few months or feel your doctor isn't taking the situation seriously, see a fertility specialist.
West states that the "hardest thing about secondary fertility issues is that you want a sibling for your child." Fiona, who has a son of five and has been trying to conceive a second child for two years, says she can no longer look out of the window at her son playing in the garden. "It breaks my heart. He just looks so alone out there. All I want is a sibling for him but I don't think it's going to happen."
If a physician believes infertility is a concern, a number of tests will be administered. For women, these may include ovulation testing, ovarian reserve testing, hormone testing, and hysterosalpingography (X-rays of the fallopian tubes) or other imaging tests. Assessing male infertility involves semen analysis, which examines the number of sperm, as well as their motility and morphology (shape). Other tests for men may include hormonal and genetic testing, testicular biopsy, and additional imaging.
Only 30 percent of patients who receive 100 mg of Clomiphene a day will produce more than three follicles. Patients that produce less than than three follicles have about half the chance of getting pregnant than those that produce greater than three follicles. Patients that receive fertility medications but do not do an insemination have only half the success rates compared to those who do.