By Dr. Shivani Chaturvedi, Gynaecology,
Being a mother is something many women dream of but some women find it extremely difficult to live this dream. An inability to conceive a child in 12 months of more of well-timed unprotected intercourse or an inability to carry a child to full term is known as infertility. The risk of infertility increases with age. Infertility can affect both men and women and can be triggered by a number of factors.
The risks of infertility increase with age. Obesity or being extremely underweight, smoking and alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of infertility. In addition, a diet that is deficient in zinc, folic acid and vitamin B12 can aggravate problems with conception. Ovulation and sperm production may also be affected by stress and exposure to chemicals, pesticides etc.
Thankfully, in most cases, infertility is not a condition one has to live with. Treatment for infertility depends on the factors triggering infertility. Hence, the first step to dealing with infertility is understanding the factors that cause this condition. Two of the most common causes of infertility include:
- Anovulation: Anovulation refers to the absence of ovulation. This condition is often caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome. If an egg is not released by the ovaries, it cannot be fertilized by sperm and hence causes difficulties with conception.
- Tubal infertility: A blocked fallopian tube or scarring on the fallopian tube can by caused by pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis. Minor tubal damage can also add to infertility problems. Problems with the fallopian tube can also be caused by exposure to STDs like chlamydia.
Fertility treatment includes:
- Ovulation induction: This involves stimulating the development of ovaries in women suffering from anovulation and infertility with the help of medication. This can also be used to treat infertility caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome. Ovulation can be induced with oral and injectable medication. The success of this form of treatment depends on the age of the woman and type of medication used.
- Artificial insemination: Intrauterine insemination can be used to treat infertility caused by damage to the fallopian tubes, endometriosis, male infertility and ovarian failure. The age of the woman plays a significant role in determining the success of this form of treatment. Intrauterine insemination may also be accompanied by the use of oral medication to stimulate ovulation.
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): This process involves stimulating the development of eggs in the ovaries which are them retrieved and fertilised in a laboratory before the embryo is transferred back into the uterus. IVF can be used to treat almost all forms of infertility except those caused by severe anatomic problems with the uterus and has a high success rate.