Infertility, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is the inability to conceive after about one year of trying. Worldwide, the prevalence of infertility is more than 72 million cases, i.e. about 10 to 15 percent of couples.
In Pakistan, the rate of infertility is on the rise, with the current numbers standing at about 22 percent, 4 percent of which is primary (never conceived), and 18 percent secondary infertility (couples that have previously conceived, but are unable to do so now). This means that one in every five couples in Pakistan is unable to have a child.
This rise in infertility could be attributed to many causes before you pay a visit to the gynecologist; let’s have a look at a few.
1. Physical Reasons:
The list of physical causes related to infertility is a long one. In women, ovarian issues, fallopian tube abnormalities, endometriosis, and fibroids can all contribute towards infertility. In men, on the other hand, causes can include reproductive infections, erectile dysfunction or ejaculation disorders.
After thorough checkups and investigations your gynecologist thinks you need, it can be determined if there is a physical problem that needs addressing. Untreated sexual infections are among the leading causes of damage to the reproductive tract that can hamper the ascent of sperm to the ovum.
Moreover, studies show that unhygienic delivery practices, unskilled birth attendants, and lack of knowledge all can lead to the development of infections that can damage the reproductive tract. Secondary infertility is common in women who had unskilled birth attendants at home who did not follow the standard delivery protocol.
Washing hands with soap and water before conducting delivery is one of the simplest techniques to reduce the chances of infection. However, the indigenous and illiterate women who deliver babies at home do not follow even this simple technique and end up introducing infections in the mother. This results in ascending infections of the genital tract and secondary infertility.
Some postpartum period practices are also dangerous for the reproductive health of women. These can include the intra-vaginal placement of medicines that unskilled birth attendants recommend. Research shows that home-made vaginal preparations are commonly used during the postpartum period to bring the uterus in the original position and flattening of the abdomen. These unsafe preparations end up introducing genital tract infections.
Additionally, the use of inappropriate absorbent material for blood and lochia during the postpartum period and menstruation can cause infection in women. Use and re-use of rags is a common practice, and these rags are dried in closed rooms away from sunlight. Thus, these rags can harbor bacteria that can ascend in the female reproductive tract and cause genital infections.
Other physical causes that can hamper fertility include the autoimmune diseases that play an important role in recurrent miscarriages. Autoimmune disorders are disorders whereby the body’s immune system works against its own self and recognizes them as unhealthy. If the maternal immune system is recognizing the embryo as a foreign body, then it is going to eradicate it, and cause recurrent miscarriages.
Such diseases can also cause implantation failure. Women who have had three or more recurrent miscarriages should consult a healthcare provider to rule out autoimmune disorder.
2. Psychological Factors
Psychological distress can contribute to the development of infertility. Various studies have shown the negative impact of anxiety and stress on reproductive health. According to Sarah Berga, MD, an infertility specialist, the ovulatory cycle can be disrupted in severe psychological upheavals and chronic stress can release certain hormones that throw the metabolism into whack.
Women are stressed about not being able to conceive, and then family pressure and societal pressure can turn the stress into anxiety and depression. The feelings of shame, inadequacy, and guilt can affect fertility.
3. Sexual Problems
For the couple’s physical and mental wellbeing, a healthy sexual relationship is important. For couples who struggle in this department, infertility is an issue. Taking sex as a treatment gradually diminishes the motivation and interest in sex.
Many couples report that they follow the schedule recommended by their doctors and on the fertile days only, and many take this as a chore. Such patients also report having concentration problems during sex, as they constantly think about having children.
4. Age Impact
Most people are choosing to get married later in life; studies show that the risk of infertility increases with growing age. Pregnancy before the age of thirty for women, and before thirty-five is ideal for fertility. However, it is not altogether a fixed rule, and people above these age ranges can successfully conceive.
5. Mobile Addiction
Mobile phone devices emit radiofrequency electromagnetic waves that can disrupt the normal functioning of the reproductive systems, and reduced sperm quality. The thermal and non-thermal effects of mobile phones have a proven effect on sperm production and quality.
Moreover, the radiofrequency emitted from cell phones causes the production of free radicals in the testicles, and these have a major impact on the fertility of men.
If you have concerns about fertility then you should timely seek professional help. Book appointment with a gynecologist in Lahore, Multan, and Islamabad through oladoc.com. Or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your health concerns.