Fertility problems: The 7 most common causes
Many people struggle with fertility problems. Studies show that around 1 out of 6 couples experience fertility problems at some point in their lives. It is important to know the cause, in order to find out which possibilities there are to overcome the problem and become pregnant. Therefore, we have gathered some of the most common causes of infertility.
What are the causes for fertility problems and why are infertility increasing?
A couple suffers from infertility or fertility problems, after a year of trying to conceive naturally. One-third of fertility problems can be explained by male fertility problems, one third by female fertility problems, while the rest often either can’t be explained or are due to both male and female factors.
In the video below, you can hear Saghar Kasiri, Fertility Expert and Director of European Operations at Cryos, explain why fertility problems are increasing.
As Saghar Kasiri explains in the video, there are a lot of factors responsible for the increase in couples experiencing fertility problems. Below we have listed 7 of the most common fertility problems.
1. Age causes fertility problems
Studies have shown that female fertility begins to decline significantly around the age of 35. By the age of 40, the chances of getting pregnant have fallen by half. The reason is that the number of eggs available and the quality of the eggs reduces. Male fertility is affected when men are over the age of 45. After this age, the quality of the sperm decreases. A simple blood test that measures the level of antimullerian hormone (AMH) can indicate the current fertility profile of a woman. A sperm analysis can indicate the quality of the sperm and the chances of conceiving.
2. Damaged or closed fallopian tubes
Some women have damaged or closed fallopian tubes or womb caused by an infection or by a natural defect. In this case, surgery or egg donation can be a solution.
3. Hormonal disorders
The female fertility cycle is controlled by the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Disorder in the levels of these hormones may cause polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and ovulation problems: the eggs don’t mature, or the ovaries fail to release the mature eggs. Hormone levels can be adjusted through medical treatment.
Another common cause of infertility is endometriosis. This is a condition where tissue, that normally is developed in the uterus, develops outside the uterus. If endometriosis causes fertility problems, surgical procedures can help.
5. Poor sperm quality
Poor sperm quality covers low sperm cell count, no sperm cells at all, or low sperm motility. A sperm count under 15 million is considered low. Poor sperm quality can also mean abnormally shaped sperm cells or sperm cells that are not able to move. Many cases of poor sperm motility or quality are unexplained, but there is a link between high temperature and low sperm quality.
6. Lifestyle factors
Some studies indicate that lifestyle factors can affect your fertility. This could be the use of alcohol, smoking, overweight, underweight, environmental factors (exposure to certain pesticides, solvents and metals), stress in severe cases etc.
7. Unexplained fertility problems
If your doctor can’t find the cause of your fertility problem, the diagnosis might be “unexplained fertility problems”. Even though this diagnosis is frustrating, it doesn't necessarily mean that you can't succeed having a child with fertility treatment. It is perhaps more difficult to choose the right kind of treatment, to begin with, and therefore it may take longer than if you know the exact cause of your fertility problem.
Fertility problems – what can you do?
If you have tried to conceive for more than a year without success, we recommend that you talk to your doctor in order to know the cause. When you know the cause, your doctor will be able to suggest a suitable treatment method. Experiencing fertility problems can be very stressing for both men and women. If you are suffering from infertility, we can recommend you to read our blog post on how to cope with infertility.
You can prevent some fertility problems by changing your lifestyle, while others need to be addressed at a fertility clinic or with the help of a sperm bank like Cryos.
In general, fertility treatment can be divided into three different methods: medical treatment (ovulation problems), surgical procedures (endometriosis etc.), and assisted conception such as IUI treatment, IVF treatment and ICSI treatment.
Approximately 65% of people suffering from fertility problems are able to conceive within a year with fertility treatment. So don't lose hope if you are one of the many people who does not get pregnant right away. If it, for some reason, is not possible for you to receive treatment in your country, we can recommend you to read about fertility tourism here.