It is reported that around one in seven couples faces difficulties in conceiving. If you and your partner have been having regular unprotected sex for twelve months and have still not fallen pregnant then you may be starting to wonder if you have a fertility problem. The first step is to speak to your doctor who will refer you to a fertility specialist; or you can always come straight to us here at TCM HealthCare.
Common causes of fertility
There are a number of different conditions that doctors check for in cases where a couple is struggling to get pregnant, these include the following:
- Endometriosis – endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus and can cause tubal blockages and ovulation problems. Laparoscopic surgery is used to remove abnormal tissue and unblock tubes, with around 81 to 84% of women conceiving post-surgery in mild cases, and 36 to 66% in moderate to severe cases.
- Ovulation problems – any hormonal condition that prevents the release of a mature egg from an ovary. Ovulation-stimulating drugs and IVF can be used to treat ovulation problems, with about 70 to 85% of women ovulating, and 23 to 28% conceiving.
- Poor egg quality – eggs that become damaged, or develop chromosomal abnormalities are unable to sustain a pregnancy. Poor egg quality is usually due to age, as egg quality declines quite significantly after 35. Donor eggs/embryos are the safest way to resolve this problem.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome – is caused by a hormone imbalance that disrupts ovulation and can cause cysts to develop on the ovaries. Changes to diet and lifestyle, i.e. losing weight, as well as drugs can help to re-start regular ovulation.
- Female tube blockages – damage or blockages to the fallopian tubes prevents eggs from getting to the uterus, stopping sperm from getting to the egg. Laparoscopic surgery can help to open up the tubes, with success rates between 20 and 70%.
- Male tube blockages – obstructions in the vas deferens or epididymis can be caused by sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, injury, or birth defects. Surgery can help to unblock the tubes, with 20 to 40% of men getting their partner pregnant within 12 to 18 months of surgery.
- Sperm problems – low sperm count, poor sperm motility, and abnormally shaped sperm can all cause infertility. Fertility drugs can boost sperm production, or the sperm can be injected directly into the egg with the usual IVF success rates.
- Sperm allergy – some men have an autoimmune reaction to semen, causing them to produce antibodies that damage their sperm. This is most common after a vasectomy, and around 3% of infertile men have this type of immune reaction to their own sperm.
Once all of the common causes of infertility have been tested for without success, a diagnosis of unexplained infertility may be given. There are several theories as to why a couple may be having trouble conceiving in the absence of any of the conditions discussed above.
Some doctors believe the cause to be related to one or both partners being overweight or underweight. It is also thought that exercising excessively could be the cause. Other experts try to explain unexplained fertility problems by looking to environmental toxins that could be to blame.
The age of the male and female partner also plays a large role in possible fertility problems, and the likelihood of a diagnosis of unexplained infertility increases significantly in women aged 35 and over. Egg quality decreases with time, but it may not necessarily show up in regular medical testing, so a diagnosis of unexplained fertility may be given incorrectly.
If you’ve been diagnosed with unexplained infertility one of the best things that you can do as a couple is to continue to have regular unprotected sex! Don’t stress yourself out with ovulation dates etc, just enjoy sex with your partner a couple of times a week, or more. Couples who carry on trying this way have around a 15% chance of conceiving in the first year after fertility investigations, and 35% within the second year.
If you’ve received a diagnosis of unexplained fertility and you’re not happy with it, speak to us. At TCM HealthCare we use Chinese herbal methods and acupuncture to help couples to overcome their fertility problems by bringing balance and order to the body and hormones. Get in touch today to see how we could help you achieve your dreams of parenthood.