Fertility refers to the natural ability of a man or woman to produce an offspring. Infertility occurs when there are biological factors affecting this ability. So, male infertility means a man is unable to impregnate a fertile female while female fertility means a woman cannot conceive or bring a pregnancy to full term. Infertility is usually diagnosed by a doctor when a couple has been trying to conceive for 12 months or more.
What causes infertility?
There are many causes of infertility. Many people don’t know that malefactors are, in fact, the most common cause of infertility. In men, infertility may be caused by low sperm count or abnormalities in sperm movement and function. A man might also be infertile because there is a blockage preventing the delivery of sperm. These problems may present themselves because of illness, injury, ongoing health issues, lifestyle choices and other factors.
In women, at least 10 – 30 percent of infertility cases are due to an abnormal uterus or fallopian tubes. Abnormalities in the uterus can be caused by conditions like fibroids, polyps, and adenomyosis. These conditions cause an obstruction of the uterus and fallopian tubes, thus preventing conception. There are other irregularities such as a separate uterus, that might allow conception but lead to recurrent miscarriages. Fallopian tubes may not function properly if a woman has endometriosis or a history of previous pelvic infection (e.g. chlamydia).
If you have been trying to conceive by having regular sex without contraception for more than a year, something might be wrong. Therefore, you should visit a fertility clinic to run some tests.
Fertility tests for men and women
There are fertility tests for both men and women. To determine whether trouble conceiving is due to male infertility, the fertility doctor will usually start by taking a full medical history. He or she will then do a physical examination followed by a semen analysis to check sperm count and observe sperm movement. The semen analysis will include tests for infection. You may be required to do several sperm analyses stretched over a period of time as sperm count can fluctuate. If these tests do not show any abnormalities, the doctor may recommend fertility tests for the female partner before continuing with more extensive male fertility tests.
For female fertility testing, the fertility clinic will first evaluate the patient’s medical history. They will then use one or more test to see whether there are any medical problems preventing conception. The doctor may order a pap smear which can detect cervical cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and other problems that may interfere with a woman’s ability to get pregnant. The fertility clinic may use hormone tests to determine whether the female is ovulating each month. They might also advise the female on how to check her ovulation pattern at home. It is important to know this pattern as a woman must have sex during that window of time for an egg to be fertilized. While there are hormones that are present when a woman ovulates there are those that may cause irregular or missed ovulation. The doctor will tests for these hormones as well. Finally, the fertility doctor will check the reproductive organs by ultrasound or x-ray.
Women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have, so a fertility doctor will always check on egg numbers (ovarian reserve) using blood tests and ultrasound.
Are you looking for a fertility clinic in Vancouver?
We at Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine understand that not being able to conceive can be stressful and frustrating. That is why we are happy to inform you that there are a number of options available for treating male and female infertility. Once a cause of infertility has been identified our fertility specialists can then recommend the appropriate treatment. Even if an exact cause cannot be identified, we are often still able to recommend treatment that will result in conception. So, give us a call today to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists to discuss your options.