Q: I am concerned that my husband and I will not be able to have children. We have been trying for some time. Are we possibly infertile?
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
Infertility should be a concern to those who have been unable to successfully fall pregnant after trying for more than one year.
Infertility in women can be attributed to various factors including (but not limited to):
- Premature ovarian failure (POF). In this instance the ovaries stop functioning before the onset of natural menopause at the approximate age of 40. Women may experience missed periods at first, which in time may result in the regular symptoms of menopause.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the development of cysts on the ovaries due to an increase in the amount of hormones called androgens produced by the ovaries. The increased levels of androgens may hinder the development of and also possibly the release of the egg to be fertilised.
- Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumours that grow in and around the uterus wall.
- Endometriosis is a condition in which the layer of tissue that normally covers the inside of the uterus grows outside of it.
Male infertility can be attributed to:
- Physical problems such as testes that do not produce healthy or enough sperm
- Inability to have and maintain an erection
- Insufficient semen to carry the sperm to the egg
- Underdeveloped or the wrong shape sperm that do not swim in the right direction
- Cryptorchism is a condition where the testes do not descend into the scrotum
Environmental factors affecting fertility of both men and women include:
- Poor diet
- Being overweight or underweight
- Smoking, drugs and excessive alcohol
- Environmental toxins
Consult your health practitioner, gynaecologist or fertility specialist to determine the cause of your not being able to conceive. This can be a very stressful time for both potential parents and all avenues should be investigated before deciding on a solution. All the best!