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Infertility Issues? There's Help - and Hope

Many women often dream of having children some day. Becoming a parent and a mother is one of the greatest gifts a person can receive. However, planning for a child and hoping to bring a baby into the world is not as easy as it seems. As effortless as it may be for some, it can be twice as difficult for some women to conceive. Infertility can be heartbreaking and, just as equally, a worst nightmare that comes true. 

The National Institutes of Health states that infertility is the term healthcare providers use to describe women who are unable to get pregnant, and men who are unable to impregnate a woman. Infertility is not a term used to describe those who can’t get pregnant because they are near the age of menopause. Infertility pertains to those who are of normal childbearing age and are having trouble conceiving. This also involves women who are able to get pregnant but cannot carry a pregnancy to term.  

There is no single cause of infertility since a successful pregnancy has numerous chains of events. However, infertility causes can lay in the woman or the man, or can be a combination of both — each scenario contributing to about one-third of all cases. 

For women, risk factors include (but are not limited to):

  • Age
  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Being overweight or underweight
  • Smoking, drugs and alcohol
  • Medication
  • Environmental toxins
  • Genetic conditions, such as being a carrier of Fragile X syndrome
  • Chromosomal anomalies (translocations, inversions etc.)
  • Other health problems, such as sexually transmitted diseases

Causes of female infertility include:

Tubal factor - Due to inflammation of the tube or the presence of excessive fluid that can impede the interaction of the sperm and egg or the normal transport of the fertilized ovum into the uterine. Oftentimes, exposure to Chlamydia was the most frequent cause of tubal infertility.

Endometriosis –A condition where the uterine lining grows outside of the uterine cavity. This can affect the function of the ovaries, tubes and uterus.

Fibroids – A condition found in women in their 30s-40s. Fibroids are benign tumors of the uterine wall that can hinder implantation of a fertilized egg. Some fibroids can be quite large or numerous, and can affect a large area of the uterus.

Pelvis adhesions (pelvic adhesive disease) – Bands of scar tissue that can form after abdominal or pelvic surgery, or following infection. These adhesions can envelop organs preventing normal function of the ovaries, tubes and/or uterus.

Ovulation disorders – Caused by hormone dysfunction, diet, exercise, medications and environmental factors.  Ovulation disorders can affect the release of eggs completely or in a regular monthly fashion. 

Male infertility issues...

For men, impairment of sperm motility, or a reduction in sperm concentration or morphology are contributing factors to a couple experiencing infertility. Numerous causes―including anatomical, environmental, genetic and general health―can contribute to impaired semen parameters. 

Treatment

In terms of treatment for infertility, often, healthcare providers will offer the options of medication or surgery to repair reproductive organs. Treatment options may include intrauterine insemination/artificial insemination, or assisted reproductive technology (ART) such as in-vitro fertilization. Reducing stress, improvement in diet and stopping the use of drugs or alcohol are lifestyle changes that can also help alleviate infertility. 

If a man or woman is potentially faced with future infertility because of a medical condition requiring surgery or treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy, it is important to explore available options to preserve their fertility for the future. The cryopreservation (freezing) of sperm, eggs and embryos is a common practice in all fertility centers. In addition, fertility preservation by way freezing eggs for the future, in young women who want to defer pregnancy and family-building to a later date due to life style/career decisions, is a valid option because fertility potential decreases with age.   

HAN Fertility Center Can Help! 

For couples who are in need of assistance in starting a family, the HAN Fertility Center provides top-of-the-line treatment and is known for its contributions to the diagnosis of complicated infertility problems. The center has fantastic success rates and brings families hope as well as the miracle of birth. The center provides state-of-the-art embryo incubators, equipment available for procedures such as oocyte fertilization and embryo culture and manipulation, and separate laboratories and operating rooms to enable the center to carry out work on in its own schedule. Additionally, the HAN Fertility Center provides sperm, oocyte and embryo cryopreservation for individuals or couples in need of these services. 

Visit the HAN Fertility Center (www.hanivf.com) to learn more or call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258). 

Reviewed by Albert El-Roeiy, M.D., chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. Office locations in Upland, Glen Mills and Ardmore. For more information or an appointment, call (610) 447-2727.

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