It is a fact that infertility affects both men and women at the same rate. But, when it comes to indicating infertility rates, most incidences are defined by keeping women infertility in view. Indian societies often blame women for not being able to bear the child, while the responsibility lies equally both for the man and the woman.
Statistical data suggests that 40 to 50% of infertility cases are due to male factor infertility. The egg, as well as the sperm parameters, play a crucial role in embryo formation. And both the parameters need to be checked while testing for infertility.
While stating infertility is no longer a woman’s problem, this article explores the intricacies of what it is when a woman is unable to get pregnant? And why is infertility increasing among the youth, especially in women?
In this Article
What is Infertility in Females?
When a woman is not able to get pregnant, despite trying for more than a year or more is usually termed infertility. It may also happen that a woman gets pregnant but is unable to bear the child for the entire pregnancy term.
In short, a woman undergoing recurrent miscarriages is also medically termed infertile. For a woman, the causes of infertility may be due to physiological or medical conditions, stress, hormonal issues, lifestyle, or environmental problems.
However, one needs to know that infertility in females is not restricted to the physical inability to have a child. A woman experiences tremendous psychological stress, societal implications, sleep interruptions, depression, anxiety, withdrawal from social gatherings, and much more due to fertility conditions.
What is an Infertility Test? And What does it Include?
Infertility tests are the tests that determine the cause or reason for infertility. The cause of infertility may be many and can be because of both the man and the woman. Both men and women bear equal responsibility for fertility problems. Statistically, 30% of Indian men have sperm qualities that make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant.
Hence, both must see the doctor to get tested for infertility. Here is a list of tests done in men followed by those done in women.
Infertility test in males
- Physical examination and review of medical history
- Semen Analysis tests for sperm characteristics- sperm motility, sperm count, and sperm morphology.
- Blood analysis- hormone testing, a genetic test to analyse the genetic cause,
- Ultrasound- transrectal or scrotal ultrasound,
- Post-ejaculation urinalysis- to check for retrograde ejaculation,
- Testicular biopsy,
- Specialised sperm function test- to determine the ability of the sperm to penetrate the egg.
Infertility test in females
Tests in females are conducted to assess if there is any impairment in the reproduction process or reproductive anatomy. Fertility tests for a woman include:
- Ovulation testing
- Ovarian reserve testing- helps determine the availability of eggs
- Blood analysis- complete hormone testing
- Image testing- Includes saline infusion sonogram and sonography.
- Diagnostic hysteroscopy and laparoscopy
How Infertility Occurs in Females?
In females, the ovaries play a primary role in producing eggs. Once released from the ovaries, the egg moves to the fallopian tube to fertilise with the sperm and form an embryo. The embryo travels down the fallopian tube into the uterus. The uterine lining houses the developing embryo and the foetus. Impairment or impediment in the above process due to medical conditions, hormonal problems, or structural defects can lead to infertility in women. Some of the possible causes of female infertility include:
- Ovulation issues,
- Irregular menstrual cycle,
- Structural defects of the reproductive system,
- Immature egg production,
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS),
- Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI),
- Implantation failure,
- Uterine fibroids,
- Autoimmune disorders- like thyroid, Hashimoto’s, thyroid disorders.
- Inheritance of infertility-causing genes
Diagnosing the underlying cause of infertility and planning infertility treatments can help improve fertility and chances of getting pregnant.
Why is Infertility Increasing in Women?
Deep diving into the root cause of infertility is complex, involving research and investigations. Infertility in men and women has become extremely common nowadays and has become a rising problem in India.
Alarmingly, infertility is widening its wings and penetrating the sub-urban and small-town populations. Initially, infertility was wrongly interpreted as a disorder concerning the woman’s reproductive system. However, scientific evidence has demystified the misconception. Men are equally affected by infertility issues, with almost 40 to 50% of the infertility cases caused due to male fertility concerns.
The sudden rise of fertility problems in men and women is attributed to lifestyle factors– alcohol consumption, smoking, poor nutrition, stress, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and environmental factors like pollution. Not to forget, the medical conditions and metabolic disorders like diabetes, hypertension, thyroid problems, and cancer add to its very existence and increasing trend.
Infertility may be defined as the inability to get pregnant or have a child, but its cause can be due to male or female infertility. It is time to address the real cause of infertility without blaming the woman for fertility issues.
Treatments of infertility include medications, surgical corrections, and hormonal therapies. Popularly accepted and adopted being the Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) that work like a miracle in the lives of couples seeking children. IUI, IVF, and ICSI are some reproductive techniques that have helped millions of couples accomplish their parenthood dreams.