Let's look at some of the common fertility issues that could affect your chances of falling pregnant...
It’s a common misconception that fertility issues are purely a female matter. In fact, causes of fertility issues are generally identified as 35% female factors, 35% male factors and 20% a combination of both. Unexplained infertility occurs in about 10% of cases.
Here are some of the common female and male reproductive conditions and fertility tests used to assess fertility.
Common female fertility issues
Endometriosis – a condition where the cells that line the uterus grow in places outside the uterus often distorting the tubes and ovaries and causing the body to resist foreign material such as sperm or block the release of eggs. Symptoms include painful periods, pain during intercourse and premenstrual spotting. Endometriosis can sometimes be treated with Laparoscopic surgery.
Read more about endometriosis >>
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – a common hormone problem and the leading cause of infertility in women. Symptoms include irregular or no periods, heavy painful periods, increased hair growth, acne and obesity. PCOS can be treated by managing the symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes, ovulation induction drugs or in difficult situations IVF treatment may be necessary.
Read more about PCOS >>
Uterine fibroids – are benign lumps of tissue that can grow around and inside the uterus. Their size and location will determine if they affect your fertility and if they will need to be removed surgically. They don’t usually cause symptoms but depending on where the fibroid is you may experience heavy or prolonged periods, pain or swelling in your pelvic area, passing urine more often than normal or constipation.
Read more about fibroids >>
Ovulation issues or irregular periods – Women who don’t ovulate often have irregular or no periods. Common causes include PCOS, obesity or low body weight, thyroid dysfunction, premature ovarian failure or low ovarian reserves. Treatment will often depend on the cause but may include diet and lifestyle changes or simple fertility drugs to trigger ovulation.
Read more about ovulation issues >>
Female fertility tests
AMH test – this simple blood test measures the level of anti-mullerian hormone, which provides a good estimate of the number of eggs and fertile years you have remaining.
Ultrasound scan – this checks the lining of your womb and overall structure which can help diagnose any underlying conditions such as fibroids or ovarian cysts.
Read more about female fertility tests >>
Common male fertility issues
Abnormal sperm production – Common causes include Azoospermia (no sperm cells), Oligospermia (few sperm cells) or Teratospermia (high % abnormally shaped).
Around one in three cases of infertility is caused by blocked / absent vas deferens often caused by injury or vasectomy.
Other causes include sperm antibodies which can interfere with motility and fertilisation or sperm DNA fragmentation where a high percentage of sperm have DNA damage
In these cases where there is an issue with the number or quality of sperm, an advanced form of IVF is usually recommended.
Read more about abnormal sperm production >
Male fertility tests
Semen analysis – This is the most important male fertility test. It accurately measures the number of sperm, their motility (ability to move), morphology (size and shape) and the volume and consistency of the sample.
A normal semen analysis result will show a sperm count of at least 15 million sperm per ml, with at least 40% of the sperm showing forward progressive movement.
If we find abnormalities, we often repeat the test to assess the type and degree of the problem. Sperm has a lifecycle of 72 days so if you are ill or stressed it can temporarily affect your sperm production quality.
Tool: Try our male fertility check >>
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Train with the BUF Girls
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Relationship expert, Dr Nikki Goldstein
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Coming up next week
- How long does it usually take to fall pregnant?
- When & where to seek help if needed
- Embracing good fats in your diet
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- Nikki explores how to face challenges & overcome obstacles together
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