Infertility in Men and Women : Symptoms & Treatment

9 min read

Human Reproductive System and Fertility:

Do you know that physicians believed in the theory of single-sex until the start of the 18th century? Men and women always had distinctive features like genitals. In the mid 18th century, concentration shifted towards the study of these features rather than matching their similarities. Out of all of the systems working in our body, the human reproductive system is the most excellent collaboration of the different organs. If you have heard about infertility in men and women, then you know that it is all about the reproductive system’s malfunctioning.

The male reproductive system consists of internal organs like the vas deferens, prostate, urethra, and external organs like the penis, scrotum, and testicles. It performs a dual function of sexual reproduction and urination. The female reproductive system consists of internal organs like ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, urethra, and exterior organs like cervix, vagina, hymen, etc. Most of us already know that our reproductive systems are not active at the time of birth. There are certain age limitations to fertility. However, infertility in men and women is when it is impossible to produce young ones in average reproductive age.infertility problem

Infertility in Men and Women:

Having a child can be the best phase of your life. However, infertility is one of the most prominent problems nowadays. Infertility can be regarded as the inability to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse. This definition of infertility provides a strict guideline for its detection. In case any couple can’t conceive within six months, it can’t be termed infertility.

Infertility in men and women is still a social taboo in many countries. While many consider it to be a “women thing,” some view it as the result of any sin committed in previous lives. Thanks to medical science, we have a factual and scientific explanation for infertility that proves it to be a cause of any deficiency in the reproductive system only.

You will be surprised to know that infertility is not only limited to humans. Many husbandry animals suffer from infertility as well. When it is related to something like extending your family, it is prone to multiple misconceptions.

Some feel that infertility in men and women is a permanent issue. It is not so. Many couples with children may suffer infertility. Also, suffering from infertility doesn’t mean that a couple can’t have children at any stage in their life. Hence, many infertility awareness programs stress the fact that it can be cured depending on the situation of couples.

Infertility in Women:

Infertility in females can be a nightmare. Many times infertility in couples is considered to be due to females: however, there are equal chances of males being infertile. Pregnancy for women is not a single-step procedure. It involves a series of processes that need to be executed at high efficiencies at all times. Thus, pregnancy is a lot more than successful intercourse.

The whole reproductive system of the female is designed with the concept of best results at all times.

  • The ovulation, i.e., the process of release of the egg from the ovaries (that occurs alternatively), should be at proper intervals.
  • The fertilization of the egg with a female egg is only possible if the sperms can travel to her body without any restriction.
  • After the achievement of ovulation and fertilization, the third important step is the attachment of the fertilized egg inside the uterus. Thus getting pregnant is not just a happening but a series of events.

Infertility in females was discovered earlier than the occurrence of the same in men.  There needs to be a deep understanding of this, which can only be achieved if we are successful in understanding the signs, symptoms, and potential reasons for infertility.

Infertility in Men:

As written earlier, infertility in men was discovered a long time after the same in females. However, it is quite easy to understand it as compared to females. The male reproductive system is designed for manufacturing semen or sperms that are needed for the fertilization of the egg in females. The degradation in the production of sperms or semen on a quantitative or qualitative basis can be regarded as infertility in males.

Thus the entire study of male infertility shifted towards the factors responsible for the least quality or quantity of sperms. The taboo remains the same as in the case of females. Semen is the fluid in males that carries sperms to the body of a female during intercourse. Hence, before going to the functioning of each organ of the male reproductive system, it is vital to note that everything rotates around the production of sperms and its transport.

The testicles in males are responsible for the production of sperms. It is housed by the scrotum that provides efficient temperature for the manufacturing of sperms. The epididymis carries the sperms from the testicles and is responsible for the maturation as well. Thus, once sexually aroused, the urethra of males stops the passage for urine and lets the sperm flow through the penis to the female’s body. The penis is the main functioning organ that has complex tissues that get relaxed or contracted as per its functioning. Thus, male infertility can be complex at times due to the different hurdles in the functioning of each male reproductive organ.

Similarity – Infertility in Men and Women:

After having a quick look at infertility in men and women, little can be drawn about the similarity between the two. The chances of men and women being infertile in any case are equal. Hence, before going into the signs, symptoms, causes, and treatment of infertility, let us accept that it is nothing more than a disease. Humans being a social animal, had to face social stigma when it comes to infertility. Hence, the chances and problems faced in both sexes are somewhat equal.

Due to differences in the functioning of the reproductive systems of males and females, one sign can’t determine infertility in both sexes. Let us have a quick look at the best possible signs or symptoms of infertility.

Signs or Symptoms of Infertility:

The very situation of not able to reproduce even if you’re in the average reproductive age is the first sign of infertility. This inability indicates urgent attention to prevent it from getting worsened. There are many signs or symptoms of infertility. The basic concept should be understood that many couples never face these symptoms until they start trying to conceive. Thus, don’t get upset with the immediate symptoms that are too recent. Further, owing to the age constraints in the fertility of men and women, the earlier detection of infertility is a must.infertility symptoms

Signs or Symptoms of Infertility for Women:

The main symptoms of female infertility include:

  • Problems in the Menstruation Cycle:

The series of changes in the body of a woman to prepare its reproductive system for pregnancy in a month is called the menstruation cycle. In simpler words, starting with the ovulation and ending at the shredding of the uterus’s internal lining are the stages of the menstruation cycle. The loss of the inner lining of the uterus wall is called periods. Many women with infertility experience painful periods. Some others experience the heavy flow of blood due to an inefficient reproductive system.

Some women face issues of irregular periods. These indicate the possible problems in the reproductive system. Some also complain about no periods at all. It is again a clear indicator of female infertility.

  • Painful Intercourse:

Many women have convinced themselves that sex is painful. However, it is not true as human bodies are not made to suffer pain during sex. Thus, if the woman is facing extreme pain during sexual intercourse, it may indicate some serious issues that hint at infertility in females.

  • Hormonal Fluctuations:

The features of hormonal fluctuations best indicate the issues with fertility. If a woman faces skin issues without any reason, it can be due to an inefficient reproductive system. Further, a decrease in sex drive and weight gain indicates a sharp decrease in infertility hormones. The growth of facial hair or thinning of hair is another indication of possible hormonal changes.

Signs or Symptoms of Infertility for Men:

The main symptoms of infertility in men include:

  • Issues with Testicles:

Infertility in men starts with the issues with testicles that produce sperms and semen. The pain or swelling in testicles or changes in their sizes can indicate possible problems of infertility.

  • Ejaculation Issues:

Ejaculation is the release of semen and sperms from the penis of males. The problems in achieving mature ejaculation, i.e., quick ejaculation or ejaculation without an orgasm, are the signs of infertility in men. Also, many men suffer from the problems of an erection that is important for the penis to actively participate in intercourse.

  • Changes in Sexual Desire:

The change in the urge for sex indicates a decrease in the fertility hormones that is not a good sign for male fertility.

Causes of Infertility:

There are many reasons associated with infertility in men and women. Let us check them one by one.

Causes of Infertility in Women:

The possible causes of infertility in women include:

  • Dysfunctional Ovaries:

The ovaries are not able to produce eggs. The non-production of eggs by both ovaries is the main reason for infertility in women.

  • Blockage in Fallopian Tubes:

The fallopian tubes are the passage of the fertilized egg to get placed in the uterus for the growth of the baby. Hence, it is another most common reason for infertility in females.

  • Abnormal Uterus:

The uterus of the mother is found absent or in an abnormal state in many cases. This is also one of the possible causes of infertility.

  • Endometriosis:

This is the condition of abnormal implantation of the tissue at any other place instead of the uterus.

  • Other Medical Histories:

There are some instances where women with long medical history are unable to reproduce.

Causes of Infertility in Men:

The possible causes of infertility in men include:

  • Sperms Related:

The testicles may not be able to produce enough sperms. Further, there can be varicocele in testes that affects the growth of sperms. The problems can be associated with the efficient delivery of sperms like cystic fibrosis, structural issues, and damage to reproductive organs. Sexual-related problems like premature ejaculation are other common causes of infertility in men.

  • Environmental Factors:

When it is not about the body, it is about the environment. Exposure to sedatives like drugs, steroids, smoking, and alcohol can reduce fertility levels in males.

  • Medical Issues:

Medical issues like diabetes, & hypertension in males significantly decrease fertility. Chemotherapy, i.e., treatment of cancer using radiation is proven to cause a decrease in sperm count.

Infertility Treatment:

The best treatment for infertility includes:

1. Surgery for Men and Women:

The surgical removal of tissue (i.e., in endometriosis or the removal of varicocele to enhance the veins in the scrotum) can be adopted to treat infertility in men and women.

2. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART):

There are several types of ART methods that include Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), in which sperms are collected and placed artificially in the uterus. In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is another technique in which the sperm and egg are collected and fertilized in the lab. The embryo then is placed in the female’s body. The third technique is Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) and Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT), in which both eggs and sperms are placed in fallopian tubes (GIFT) or are brought together in the lab and then planted in the fallopian tube (ZIFT). Any of these methods can be applied to couples to treat infertility.

3. Drugs for Men and Women:

In many cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat infections in the reproductive system to males or fertility drugs to females.

4. Hormonal Treatments:

The imbalance in hormones is best treated with hormonal treatments like the treatment of delayed ovulation. Hence these hormonal medications have a good scope in the treatment of infertility in females.

5. Counseling:

It works wonders in the infertility treatment of men who suffer from the issues of premature ejaculation.couple sad with pregnancy test

FAQs

1. How do I know if I’m suffering from infertility?

You can keep a strict check on the possible symptoms of infertility and can contact a registered medical practitioner accordingly. Infertility in men and women can be confirmed after a series of medical tests only.

2. What is the psychological impact of infertility?

Infertility has proven to cause psychological disorders in couples, including depression, anxiety, feeling of worthlessness, etc.

3. Is it possible to treat infertility?

Infertility in men and women can be treated according to its cause with the help of the latest treatments.

4. Will infertility treatment interfere with my regular working life?

Most of the infertility treatments don’t interfere with the routine except for some changes due to hormonal imbalances.

5. What are the chances of abnormalities in babies born after infertility treatment?

There are very few chances of abnormalities in babies born to couples after the treatment of infertility.

6. What are the harmful effects of infertility?

Apart from socio-mental effects, infertility is associated with many diseases like hypertension, hormonal imbalances, etc.

Infertility in Men and Women: Quick Facts

  • Fertility is found to change with age.
  • The reproductive age of the female is usually between 15-51 years, and that of the male is 16-50 years. (The sperm quality of males decreases after 50 years).
  • One in every five couples has agreed to suffer infertility.
  •  In case a couple is not able to conceive, there are 50% chances of male infertility and female fertility.
  • A healthy woman should have periods regularly that occur after 28-31 days.
  • A healthy man should have 15 million to 2000 million sperms per milliliter of semen.
  • Endometriosis is associated with 15-17% of female infertility.
  • The problem in ovulation is the most common reason for infertility in females.
  • Varicocele is the most common cause of infertility in men.

Infertility can be a difficult situation to handle. Whether you or your partner is suffering from infertility symptoms, it is best to visit a physician as early as possible. Infertility in men and women is not permanent in the majority of cases. Hence, awareness about the symptoms of infertility can help in timely treatment.

The advancement in medical sciences has proven that it can cure infertility in men and women. In exceptional cases, where it is impossible to cure infertility, there are multiple options for the couples to step into parenthood. Remember that you don’t have to stress and have to obey your consultant physician to get out of infertility problems.

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