The World Health Organization defines infertility as a pathology of the reproductive system that makes pregnancy impossible. However, this is a condition that has a variety of edges.
Beyond the definition of infertility provided by the WHO, it is a diagnosis that in many cases represents a break for the woman, the man, or the couple who suffer from it. For this reason, at IVI Panama we wanted to talk in greater depth about the subject, to clarify any doubts that may arise regarding it.
The root causes of infertility can be female, male, or unknown. This means that many times some couples are unable to conceive without there being a specific identifiable cause.
What it is possible to recognize and list are the symptoms of infertility, against which it is important to act in time and consult specialists. In our clinic, we have the best experts willing to help you address this pathology and its implications early, so that you can achieve the dream of being a mother or father.
Definition of infertility
Infertility is the difficulty in achieving or maintaining a pregnancy and is relatively frequent. Depending on who it affects, we can talk about male infertility or female infertility.
In fact, one of the myths that prevailed many years ago is that the woman was responsible in cases of infertility – and even more so if she was older than a certain age. Today it is not only known that this is not the case, but also that before the consultation tests are carried out on both members of the couple.
There are two types of infertility:
Primary infertility: affects those couples who have not achieved a pregnancy between six months and one year after having sexual intercourse without contraceptives. The time depends on the age of the woman.
Secondary infertility: Couples who managed to get pregnant and now cannot. This occurs in two ways, either not being able to concretize the pregnancy or with repeated abortions.
The main symptom of infertility is the inability to achieve a pregnancy, although menstrual disturbances are often the first warning sign: the menstrual cycle is too long (35 days or more).
Regarding when to consult the doctor, beyond the stages of the woman’s fertile age, the parameter is the time of unprotected sexual intercourse but with unsuccessful results.
If the woman is under 35 years of age, most doctors recommend trying to get pregnant for at least a year before having a medical consultation that will start tests and treatment with assisted reproductive methods.
On the other hand, between the ages of 35 and 40, the time is six months; and if the woman is over 40 years of age, immediate testing is recommended.
Causes of infertility
In most cases, infertility is due to infrequent or non-existent ovulation. This may be due, for example, to hormonal causes, for example, dysfunction of the hypothalamus-, although the pathology is known as polycystic ovary syndrome also has an influence.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with insulin resistance and obesity, abnormal hair growth on the face or body, and acne, and is the most common cause of infertility in women.
Physical or emotional stress, very high or very low body weight, and excess prolactin (hyperprolactinemia) also play a role in ovulation disorders, which reduces estrogen production and can cause infertility.
Other causes of infertility
As for other pre-existing pathologies to the unsuccessful attempt to achieve a pregnancy, we can mention:
Damaged fallopian tubes or tubal infertility: Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes prevent sperm from reaching the egg or block the passage of the fertilized egg to the uterus. The causes for this to occur are diverse and include infections in the uterus to previous surgeries in the abdomen or pelvis.
Endometriosis: occurs when tissue that normally grows in the uterus implants and develops in other places and outside of it. This extra growth of tissue and its surgical removal can cause scarring that blocks the fallopian tubes and prevents the egg and sperm from joining.
Uterine or cervical causes: Various uterine or cervical causes can interfere with the implantation of the egg or increase the risk of miscarriage.
Polyps or benign tumors (fibromas or fibroids): they are common in the uterus. Some can block the fallopian tubes or interfere with implantation, affecting fertility. However, it is important to mention that many women who have fibroids or polyps manage to get pregnant.
Cervical stenosis is the narrowing of the cervix and also affects fertility.
Finally, it is important that you know that in some cases the cause of infertility is never found, or it is due to a combination of factors in both members of the couple.
Although not having a specific or defined cause can be frustrating and frightening, the fundamental thing is that when the time is up you turn to the group of specialists who can help you.