If you’ve been trying to conceive for more than a year, there’s a good chance that something may be interfering with your efforts to have a child. For couples struggling to conceive, facing the challenge of infertility – and determining its root causes – can be overwhelming. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, you may be able to overcome infertility.
What is Infertility?
The word “fertility” is defined as the ability to conceive a child, while “infertility” refers to situations in which pregnancy is more difficult than average to achieve. The official infertility definition characterizes infertility as the inability to conceive within one year of active intercourse, or six months for women over the age of 35. According to the CDC, infertility is a fairly common issue for women across America, with more than six million women estimated to struggle with becoming pregnant. For every 100 couples in the United States, approximately 12 or 13 will experience difficulties with conception. Thankfully, many of those couples are able to successfully conceive one or more children after undergoing professional treatment.
What are the Causes of Infertility?
Infertility may be due to a single cause in either you or your partner, or a combination of factors that may prevent a pregnancy from occurring or continuing. Interestingly, the various contributing factors to infertility are dividing fairly evenly: about one-third of cases are associated with fertility problems in women, one-third is due to male infertility causes, and the final third is a mixture of both or undetermined factors.
One of the first steps in resolving infertility issues is determining potential causes, which can enable one or both partners to seek proper treatment to improve their chances of pregnancy. Scheduling an appointment with a licensed fertility expert is key in diagnosing the unique contributing factors to your fertility and outlining an effective plan for moving forward, if possible.
Common Causes or Factors of Female Infertility
For women dealing with infertility, the cause is often related to their reproductive system, but not always. There are a handful of varying systems that, when not functioning properly, can impede pregnancy.
Female infertility factors may include but are not limited to:
- Ovulation disorders: Issues such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), hyperprolactinemia, poor egg quality, premature ovarian failure, and other chronic conditions can all contribute to ovulation disorders.
- Significant liver or kidney disease
- Premature menopause
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Tubal dysfunction
- Genital malformations: Though rare, uterine malformations, tubal obstructions, and vaginal obstructions can often be resolved with surgery.
- Uterine fibroids: Fibroids are noncancerous growths within the uterus that can be an obstacle to pregnancy.
- Anti-sperm antibodies: Although these antibodies are uncommon in female infertility, when present, they can be problematic for fertilization.
- Insufficient cervical mucus (for the travel and survival of sperm): Often coinciding with hormonal imbalance, cervical mucus issues can sometimes occur alongside ovulation problems.
Common Causes or Factors of Male Infertility
In some couples, infertility struggles can be traced back to challenges with the male’s reproductive system or overall health.
Male infertility factors may include, but are not limited to:
- Genetic defects on the Y chromosome: Detectable using a detailed DNA analysis, micro-deletions on the Y chromosome can lead to male infertility.
- Trauma: Physical trauma, specifically to the testicles, can contribute to problems with sperm production and other contributors to infertility.
- Mumps: A lowered sperm count may be attributed to prior mumps infections, but it is a rare occurrence.
- Vas deferens obstruction: Because this type of blockage can prevent sperm from ejaculation on one or both testicles, it can lower overall sperm count significantly.
- Retrograde ejaculation: The misdirection of sperm through the bladder, rather than through the proper ejaculatory path, can often be treated.
- Impotence: Also referred to as erectile dysfunction, this often-treatable condition can make intercourse and conception very difficult.
- Producing few sperm or no sperm
Common Causes of Infertility in Both Men and Women
In some cases, there are factors that can contribute to male and female infertility. These contributing factors can include, but are not limited to:
- Age: Conception can become more difficult after age 32 for women and the late 40s for men.
- Smoking, drugs, and alcohol: Not only can smoking, drugs, and excessive alcohol consumption present significant challenges when you’re attempting to become pregnant, but they can also negate fertility treatments and put a successful pregnancy at risk.
- Diabetes: While all types of diabetes can contribute to infertility when managed properly, diabetes should not severely affect reproductive health.
- Thyroid disorders: Leading to hormonal imbalances, untreated thyroid disorders can affect the ability to conceive.
Advanced Infertility Prevention Measures and Treatments in Peoria, IL
Facing infertility is a difficult, often painful journey – but you don’t have to do it alone. At Peoria Women’s Health, we have supported numerous patients in their struggles with infertility, helping to pinpoint the specific causes of infertility in men and women, suggest potential options, and develop personalized treatment plans. Here, you can be confident that you are in caring, compassionate, and experienced hands, with a team that’s dedicated to helping you pursue the family you’ve dreamed of creating.
Peoria Women’s Health can help diagnose treat or council a wide scope of infertility issues, but if the diagnosis or treatment of infertility is beyond our abilities, you may be referred to an endocrinologist for advanced care. Take proactive steps towards fighting back against infertility by calling our office at (309) 683-0200 to schedule your first appointment today.
Visit Our Clinic Today!
Peoria Women’s Health is located at 5401 N. KNOXVILLE, SUITE 109 PEORIA, IL 61614.
Tamara Olt, M.D. & Amy Pheiffer, WHNP
5401 N. Knoxville, Suite 109
Peoria, IL 61614
Lindsey Ma, M.D. & Jamie King, WHNP
5401 N. Knoxville, Suite 114
Peoria, IL 61614
Exchange: 1.866.899.6594 (for off-hour emergency calls)
Monday through Thursday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Friday 8:30am to 4:00pm
We are closed on Saturday, Sunday and all major holidays
Peoria Area Hospital Labor Departments
Methodist Medical Center: 309.672.4852