February is Reproductive Health Month in South Africa, raising awareness about many crucially important issues surrounding reproductive health. Here we look at what the main causes of fertility are.
There are a plethora of reasons why you may be struggling to conceive and millions of people around the world face the same challenges. But let’s first break down what the term “infertility” actually means.
According to the World Health Organisation, infertility – in the medical sense – is a disease of the male or female reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months (one year) or more of frequent unprotected sexual intercourse. It is also estimated that one in every six people experience infertility at some point in their lives. There are also two classifications:
1. Primary Infertility – when a pregnancy has never been achieved.
2.Secondary Infertility – when at least one prior pregnancy has been achieved.
The Most Common Causes of Infertility
In men, the most common causes of infertility include issues with the ejection of semen, low levels or the absence of sperm or the abnormal shape and mobility of the sperm. In South Africa, it’s easy to book a male fertility analysis. All you need to do is speak to your GP who will request that a test is conducted at a PathCare or similar institute.
For optimal results and to ensure consistency should a follow-up be required, the sample should be delivered after three to four days of abstinence, but not longer than seven days. Your doctor will then help you interpret your results.
In women, infertility may be caused by a wide range of abnormalities of the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, the endocrine system, among others. Untreated STIs or complications of an unsafe abortion or pelvic surgery may also have an impact. Disorders such as endometriosis, septate uterus, fibroids and polycystic ovarian syndrome may all impact fertility.
However, it’s important to note that it might not always be scientifically possible to know what might be the cause of infertility. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake and obesity can impact fertility. Additionally, pollution and toxins could have an effect on sperm and egg quality.
If you have been struggling to conceive, speak to your medical doctor about further testing or alternative methods.