The World Health Organization defines infertility as “a disease of the reproductive system, defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.” Since infertility is also connected with age, women above the age of 35 should seek professional help if they have not been able to get pregnant after 6 months of unprotected intercourse.
Studies have shown that at least 50 million couples around the world are dealing with problems of infertility. Another interesting observation is that it is more common for couples to experience secondary infertility, or the inability to conceive after having at least one biological child compared to primary infertility, which refers to women who have not had biological children before.
Incidence of infertility
In India, the conventional assumption is that women must be solely affected by infertility. However, in reality, both parties are equally likely to be affected. In fact, one study on infertility in India found that less than 30 percent of Indian males had normal semen characteristics, meaning that up to 70 percent could have issues with fertility.
Let us try and understand how infertility manifests in both genders.
Signs of infertility in Indian men:
Abnormalities in semen is almost always a reliable indicator of infertility in men. Common infertility signs in men include low sperm count, abnormalities in the function of sperm or blockages that do not allow sperm ejaculation.
Signs of infertility in Indian women:
Some of the signs of female infertility include advancing age, physical conditions, presence of STDs, and fibroids in the uterus. However, the most common indicator of infertility in women continues to be irregularities in the menstrual cycle. Women whose periods are irregular, too long, too short, or absent, might have trouble ovulating.
History of STDs
Women who have had infections like chlamydia and gonorrhoea are likely to have weak or damaged fallopian tubes.
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– Infertility is defined as a disease of the reproductive system, defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.
– Abnormalities in semen, uterine health, STD’s, and age are some infertility signs. Smoking, alcohol, stress, and diet are factors that increase the risk of infertility.
Q1. What is infertility?
Infertility can be explained as a disease or disorder that can prevent the conception of a child or decrease the chances of carrying a child to term. Couples who have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for at least a year may need a complete checkup to diagnose any underlying issues.
Q2. What factors influence fertility?
Some of the main factors that influence fertility are sexual health, age, diet and lifestyle habits. Excessive smoking, drinking, STDs and advancing age can reduce fertility levels of individuals.
Q3. How common is infertility?
According to a study by the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, approximately 10-15% of couples in India have fertility issues. Moreover, couples in urban cities are more likely to face infertility than couples in rural areas.
Q4. Is infertility a condition in men or women?
About one-third of the cases can be traced to male factors of infertility, while another third can be caused due to factors in females. Among the remaining third, most cases are attributed to combined causes, and a few cases are unexplainable.
Q5. At what age are women most fertile?
Women are usually fertile between the ages of menarche and menopause. If one were to predict at what age are women most fertile, it would be between 15 and 30.
Q6. Does infertility affect health?
While there are no health complications that can arise from infertility, couples face psychological issues like depression, anxiety, fear, isolation, and rejection. In some cases, infertility can arise from pre-existing health conditions such as PCOS and STDs. Infertility and PCOS are often seen together, so if you have symptoms of PCOS, you should try to manage the condition to bring it under control.
Q7. What is secondary infertility?
Secondary infertility refers to the couple’s inability to conceive a child after having already given birth to one. There are many causes of secondary infertility. There might have been issues with the previous pregnancy or birth, damage to fallopian tubes or decreased sperm production.
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