How to know if you are INFERTILE?
F amily is incomplete without children. Infertility is one of the major causes of anxiety and depression in the married couples and is often the cause of marital discord.
Infertility is defined as inability to conceive after having one year of unprotected regular intercourse. Male and female, both contribute to infertility. So before you seek the advise of a doctor, you must examine yourself for certain signs and symptoms. These preemptive signs and symptoms must not be overlooked before your visit to the doctor becomes too late. Approximately, 10% of the Indian couples suffer from various forms of infertility. Contribution of both, males and females to infertility in the society is equal. There is an exponential increase in the number of cases coming to infertility clinics over last couple of decades. Usually medical advise is the last resort in the Indian society after lots of home advice being followed over many years, making the cases more complicated and resistant to treat.
FOR FEMALE INFERTILITY
Age: Every female is born with fixed number of eggs. Your chances of getting pregnancy decreases with increasing age. As the age advances, every month one egg is lost from either of the ovary (there are two ovaries in every female. An ovary is the bank where eggs for future fertilization are stored). After the age of 30, women’s chances of getting pregnant decreases by 3-5% with steep reduction in fertility after age of 40.
Menstrual problems: Any abnormality in menstrual cycle is alarming. One should maintain the menstrual calendar documenting the length and duration of cycle, flow, pain clots and other allied regular features. Any deviation from the known pattern should be recorded and brought to the notice of your gynecologist especially when one is sexually active. Normal menstrual cycle is of 21-35 days lasting for 3-7 days with moderate flow with no clots/pain. Sudden change in known pattern is alarming and can lead to difficulties in getting pregnant. In that case, one should seek the advice of the doctor immediately.
Infection: Some infections in the genital tract can lead to infertility. Infection can lead to blockage of tubes, decrease in ovarian reserve and swelling in the uterus causing narrowing of the uterine cavity and also making environment for sperm to fertilize the destined egg hostile. Most common infections are fungal infections in vagina and tuberculosis of genital tract. If you are sexually active then the treatment of husband should also be done simultaneously. Every time you have an infection like white discharge, fowl smell, get it properly treated by the doctor before the adverse effects set it.
Sudden increase in weight: If you notice that you have put on weight over few months despite normal diet and regular exercise or you notice hair growth in the unwanted sites like chin or sudden increase in hair fall, these indicate hormonal imbalance thereby increasing male hormones in your body or underlying untreated thyroid disorder. These all can lead to infertility. They are easily curable conditions if the treatment is commenced early.
Lifestyle: Lifestyle has very important role in conceiving. Intake of alcohol, cigarettes, or any form of drugs can lead to infertility. Intake of excessive junk food, irregular meals, lack of exercise all contribute to hormonal imbalance and infertility. Any form of physical and mental stress is alarming and can lead to infertility. Stress is a vicious circle, stress, hormonal imbalance, Infertility, Stress. One can resort to meditation and break this circle. Remember, there is no substitute/short cut to healthy lifestyle.
Medical disorders: Medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disorders, anemia, worms in body, tuberculosis or any previous surgical intervention in genital area can hinder conception or can pose threat to the existing pregnancy. They must be addressed appropriately by the treating doctor.
Erectile dysfunction: Erectile dysfunction i.e. inadequate tumescence in the penis sufficient enough to cause penetration of the organ in the vagina is very common. It may be due to psychological causes like stress, anxiety, depression or some medical disorders like diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease or some medicines also cause erectile dysfunction. They need to be properly addressed.
Infections: Various infections like tuberculosis, syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases can lead to low sperm count. Appropriate medicines in appropriate doses can increase the sperm count and quality.
Lifestyle: Unhealthy life style can lead to low sperm count: Causes are a. Diet lacking in essential minerals and vitamins b. Wearing of tight under garments c. Intake of steroids for muscle building d. Excess of alcohol and smoking e. Lack of exercise
These lifestyle habits can lead to decrease in sperm count or no sperms in semen. So a couple can discuss among themselves and do some modifications in there lifestyle to increase there fertility. If the problem still persists, you can seek the advice of your doctor.
Dr Deepti Gupta, is a practicing Gynecologist and senior IVF consultant in Rohini, New Delhi. She has treated thousands of couples with infertility with successful outcome.