If a couple is trying to conceive for over a year and they are not getting success in this, then either of them is suffering from infertility. A couple suffers from infertility or may experience difficulty in conceiving because of fast-pace, stressful life, etc.
Let’s know the causes, treatment, and home remedies of primary infertility.
What is Primary Infertility?
Despite having unprotected sex for 12 months or more if a couple is unable to conceive, then it is known as primary infertility. If a woman can conceive but is not able to carry a pregnancy to term, then it is also termed as infertility. Infertility is not only a problem of women, both men and women are equally likely to have fertility problems.
Female infertility contributes to one-third of infertility cases while men account for another third of infertility cases. The remaining third of cases may be contributed by the combination of both male and female infertility.
Primary Infertility and Conception
When a couple has never conceived earlier and has been unsuccessful in making a baby, then it happens because of primary infertility. There is another term known as secondary infertility in which a couple has conceived in the past but are unable to conceive again.
Causes of Primary Infertility
There are different causes of infertility in men and women. So, the following are the causes of primary infertility:
- In Men
Infertility in men is because of the following reasons:
- Low sperm count
- Sperm mobility issues
- Abnormal functioning of sperm
- Older age
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Infection in testis
- Obesity and overweight
- Exposure to toxins like herbicides, pesticides, etc.
Some medical conditions which can cause infertility in men are as follows:
- Retrograde ejaculation
- Swelling of the veins around the testicles
- Presence of antibodies that attack sperm and destroy them
- Hormonal imbalance such as less production of testosterone
- Testes that haven’t descended into the scrotum
- There are also some medications and drugs which can affect male fertility, such as:
- Radiation therapy for cancer
- Sulfasalazine for rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis
- Calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure
- Drugs such as marijuana and cocaine
- Anabolic steroids for the improvement of athletic performance
- In Women
Infertility in women can be because of various factors which interfere with the following biological processes:
- Fertilization, which occurs in the fallopian tube when sperm and egg meet after travelling through the cervix and uterus
- Implantation, which is a process in which a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus where it grows and develops into a baby.
Following are the risk factors which can contribute to female infertility are:
- Cigarette smoking
- Heavy consumption of alcohol
- Obesity and overweight
- Increased age
- Presence of certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Medical conditions which can cause female infertility are:
- Uterine fibroids
- Premature ovarian failure
- Pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID)
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or hormonal imbalance
- Scars of previous surgery
- Following are some medications and drugs which can cause female infertility:
- Radiation therapy and chemotherapy
- Antipsychotic medicines
- Marijuana and cocaine which are recreational drugs
- Long-term use of high-dosage nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Treatment of Primary Infertility
Treatment of primary infertility differs from case to case. Age of both the partners, primary infertility tests, exact cause of infertility, etc. are the factors that can affect the line of treatment of primary infertility. The treatment of primary infertility includes:
- Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
When a woman is unable to get pregnant naturally and with the help of fertility drugs, then ART is considered as the best option. Artificial implantation is done in women by the help of ART through the following methods:
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): In this, a woman’s egg is fertilized with the sperm of choice in a lab and then the embryo is implanted into the woman’s uterus within 3-5 days of fertilization.
- Assisted hatching: It is the latest technology that is adopted by the fertility specialist when IVF fails once or twice in a couple. In this procedure, there is advanced assistance to the embryo, in which embryo attach itself to the outer lining of the uterus which is possible by piercing the outer layer of the embryo.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection: In this procedure sperms from the male partner is injected directly into the eggs of the female for fertilization. The difference between IVF and ICSI is that in IVF the sperms and egg are mixed naturally, and in ICSI the sperms are injected into the egg with the help of a needle.
- The age and medical health of both partners affect the success rate of ART. The success rate of ART is high in women who are under the age of 35.
- Fertility Drugs
In ovulation disorders, fertility drugs help women to produce good quality eggs by stimulating the ovaries. Following are the drugs used to treat infertility:
- Clomiphene Citrate: This is used to induce ovulation in women who do not ovulate due to conditions like PCOS. Clomiphene citrate is commonly known as Clomid.
- Metformin Hydrochloride: This drug is generally taken with clomiphene citrate just to induce ovulation in conditions like PCOS and insulin resistance.
- Follistim: This is used to increase the production of follicles in ovaries, which further results in the production of more eggs. Brand names of this are Gonal, Bravelle, Puregon, etc.
Side effects of Primary Infertility Treatments
Following are the side effects of infertility treatments:
- Multiple Births
Risk of multiple births, i.e. twins and triplets is present with every infertility treatment.
- Stress and Mental Fatigue
Infertility treatments can cause a lot of stress, mood swings, headaches, and depression. This might be due to hormonal imbalance and medications involved.
- Birth Defects
There can be multiple birth defects like cerebral palsy, nervous disorder, heart disorder, and gastrointestinal defects due to infertility treatments.
- Low Birth Weight
Infertility treatments can cause premature births and very low birth weight of the baby many times.
- Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome
OHSS is caused by infertility treatments in which ovaries are enlarged. Depending upon the severity OHSS cause bloating, pelvic discomfort, dehydration, etc.
Following are the natural methods which can help to treat female infertility:
Yoga: Yoga promotes relaxation and decreases stress levels, this can be beneficial infertility treatment. But the contribution of yoga in infertility treatment is limited.
- Vitamins: Vitamins can be beneficial in promoting fertility. Some other supplements such as probiotics also promote digestion and improve overall wellness.
- Acupuncture: Insertion of small, thin needles in various parts of the body is acupuncture. According to some studies, it is believed that acupuncture could improve ovulation and menstruation in women with PCOS. But there is no definitive evidence to support this.