Signs you can’t get pregnant: main causes of infertility
Infertility in today’s society has become a problem that is more than just common. But do we know why? Approximately 30% of the cases of infertility are associated with female-related issues, and another 30% with male‑related issues. The remainder of cases are due to situations in which both members of the couple present a problem, in addition to ‘unexplained infertility’: i.e. women or couples who do not seemingly present any issues after having undergone the testing and necessary medical investigations studies, but who are not able to successfully conceive.
Going into more detail regarding the causes that prevent pregnancy or make conception more difficult, today we are going to talk to you about the main causes of infertility that can affect both men and women.
Main causes of female infertility
When discussing the reasons behind female infertility, there are very specific and well-identified causes which make it difficult for women to conceive when they decide to start trying. Keep reading and we will tell you what they are.
Age of the female when entering into motherhood
The age of the female at the time she decides to try conceiving is by far the most important point on this list.
Postponing maternity until later in life is becoming increasingly more frequent. Difficulties finding a partner, making our careers a priority, financial stability and difficulties finding a work‑life balance have all undoubtedly caused the average age of first‑time mothers to rise over the age of 30. The average age of motherhood in Spain has only risen. In 1980 the average age was just 28 years old. By 2014 it had risen to about 32 years old. At present, 33% of children born in Spain are to women over the age of 35 – an age at which fertility is not optimal. Actually, even more than simply not being an optimal age, 35 is the age at which female fertility begin to decline.
What is endometriosis? It is a condition that causes endometrial tissue (the tissue which lines the inside of the uterus), to grow outside of the uterus. Its growth normally spreads through the ovaries and fallopian tubes by forming adhesions and cysts that can then lead to malfunctions of the female reproductive system. Endometriosis can also cause a decline in ovarian reserve.
Between 30% and 50% of women who suffer from this condition deal with infertility. This is a very high percentage if we take into account that endometriosis affects approximately 10% of women of childbearing age.
When fertility issues concern the ovaries it is usually a case of lack of ovulation or very irregular ovulation. This normally occurs due to hormone imbalances. In this section we can also highlight cases of premature menopause, poor egg quality and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
These are cases that our team of medical specialists treat daily at URE Centro Gutenberg, all presenting different prognoses and different solutions concerning female fertility.
When talking about tubal factor infertility we are referring to situations in which the fallopian tubes do not function properly, either due to obstruction, malformations, surgical removal or lack of permeability/flexibility which can all lead to the dreaded female infertility.
These are very common cases which may not present any outward symptoms, and they also have a good prognosis thanks to In Vitro Fertilisation treatment.
The uterus is the organ responsible for pregnancy. The ovaries produce eggs which travel through the fallopian tubes. Once an egg leaves the ovary it can be fertilised by a spermatozoid and implant in the wall of the uterus. The main function of the uterus is to provide a home for the fertilised egg and offer it the optimal conditions so that the embryo can continue to develop.
For all of the above to occur you can imagine the importance of the uterus when it comes to female fertility and why certain problems associated with the uterus can have a negative impact on conception.
Genetics is also important when talking about female infertility. We are referring to genetic abnormalities in the eggs that, in many cases, can lead to miscarriage and even turn into cases of what is known as repeated or recurrent miscarriage.
These genetic problems can be caused by the advanced age of the woman or by other causes such as hereditary genetic abnormalities. These are complex cases which may require highly advanced techniques such as Pre‑implantation Genetic Diagnosis or treatment with donor eggs.
Main causes of men infertility
Although it is very common for the cause of infertility to be attributed to the female ‑most commonly due to age‑, we must remember that conceiving a baby always takes two people and that there can also be male‑related problems.
Here we will review the main causes that complicate conception due to problems associated with males.
Some men may have a low sperm count in the ejaculate or may present sperm with reduce motility, defects in their morphology, etc. These problems, which can be detected with a simple test (sperm study), can prevent a female’s egg from becoming fertilised and therefore must be taken into consideration when a couple is having issues conceiving naturally.
Varicocele is dilation of the veins that drain blood from the testicles: it can be compared to a varicose vein. This dilation causes the temperature of the testicles to rise, thus leading to decreased sperm production and quality, and in turn, a decline in male fertility.
Due to male anatomy, varicocele is more commonly observed in the left testicle. The incidence of varicocele in the general population is 10%. In males with abnormal sperm analysis results its prevalence can reach 25%, and it is observed in up to 40% of infertile men.
Obstructions in the ducts through which sperm travel can cause a partial or total blockage at the site where semen exit the body. Some of these abnormalities may be congenital (present at birth), or acquired (due to infections, scars from surgery on the urogenital tract, etc.).
Lifestyle has a direct impact on the quantity and quality of the sperm that men produce. This is especially true if a man consumes great amounts of alcohol, tobacco or drugs: substance abuse can almost be considered a direct passport to male infertility (in this article we discuss the bad habits you should avoid if you want to become a father).
On the other hand, contact with aggressive chemical substances (for example fertilisers), can be harmful and also directly affect male fertility.
Age and infertility
As we mentioned earlier, age is the most important prognostic factor for females in terms of fertility and conception. For males this concept is not so clear, although it is known that sperm count and motility can begin to decline after the age of 45, and that by the age of 60 the testicles become smaller in size.
These aspects lead us to believe that fertility also decreases as males age, though later in life than for women, so this point should not be disregarded.
If you have been trying to get pregnant for some time but have not been successful, you may be wondering if it is time to consider assisted reproduction treatment to become a parent. If this is your case, do not hesitate to contact us.
At URE Centro Gutenberg we will offer you all the advice and assistance you need from professionals who have years of experience.