Getting pregnant is hard enough without the many health issues and lifestyle anxieties that we face today. A couple that has been trying to conceive under normal circumstances should give it up to a year before beginning to worry. Common causes of infertility can be attributed to smoking, drinking, age, weight, side effects of medication, drug abuse, genetics and even a surgery that has gone wrong. Many couples turn to the holistic approach for help. The holistic approach and medical technology need not be mutually exclusive, as the former raises chances of a couple using technology to get pregnant.
- Ovulation problems: Some women either do not ovulate or do so irregularly. This is caused by an abnormality in the production of hormones needed for reproduction. These include the irregular secretion of FSH and LH (hormones that stimulate ovulation every month) causing erratic periods; the over-production of male hormones; not enough progesterone being produced by the ovary towards the latter part of the menstrual cycle and ovarian failure where the bodyís immune system attacks itself.
- Narrow Cervix or blockage: This problem is caused by a defect in the cervix which is either hereditary or due to damage. The cervix cannot manufacture quality mucus which allows the sperm to move freely and thus fertilize the egg. The opening of the cervix could also be closed off, stopping sperm from getting to the egg altogether.
- Uterine problems: Sometimes an abnormal tissue growth near or in the womb can affect fertility. These tissues, which show up as tumours Ė myoma or fibroid ó or polyps are usually benign but can block the tubes and disrupt implantation. Even then, many women do get pregnant despite the presence of fibroids. A uterus which is scarred or shaped abnormally can prevent pregnancy.
- Tubal infertility: This happens when the fallopian tubes are either blocked or damaged, resulting in the sperm not being able to reach the egg. Damage to the tubes can be caused by STDs like gonorrhea or chlamydia, an earlier pregnancy that was ectopic or an abdominal or pelvic surgery.
- Endometriosis: Sometimes tissues that usually grow in the uterus also grow in other areas. These may need to be removed surgically and can result in scarring which affects fertility.
- Hormone deficiency and low sperm count: This is caused by the irregular production of hormones by the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. Sperm production is affected when enough testosterone is not produced. A defect in the testicles can reduce the amount of sperm produced thus lowering chances of pregnancy.
- Cryptorchidism: This is a condition when the testes donít move down into the scrotum. Inside the body, the testicles are exposed to higher temperatures affecting the production of sperm and thus fertility rate. More common with males who have been born prematurely, the condition generally corrects itself in a few weeks but there are times when surgery is needed.
- Varicocele: This occurs when there is an unusual swelling in the varicose vein present in the scrotum. This swelling does not allow the testicles to cool normally and this leads to low sperm count, quality and motility (the spermís ability to move towards the egg). Around 40 percent of males who are infertile are affected by this condition.
- Reproductive tract blockage: This is one of the major causes of male infertility.† In some instances, a man could have a blocked ejaculatory duct, or epididymis, which hampers the spermís movement out of the penis. Urinary tract and bacterial infections, scarring by STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia, vasectomies and physiological defects also cause blockages.
- Retrograde ejaculation: This happens when the muscles or nerves in the manís bladder do not function properly and sperm is carried back into the bladder rather than outwards via the urethra.† It can be caused by prostate, urethral and bladder surgery, diabetes and even medication.
One of the most common causes of infertility is stress. Modern medicine is one way to deal with infertility but along with it couples should try a holistic approach so that they are mentally and physically in tune with their bodies. The holistic way recommends a change in life-style, use of herbal medication, acupuncture and yoga to help lessen stress, along with a healthy diet of foods full of vitamins, folic acid and high in anti-oxidants. This helps couples undergoing IVF and other fertility treatments boost their chances of getting pregnant.†