While pregnancy may seem easy for some, it can be extremely difficult for others. Your biological clock is ticking, your friends are having babies, and you can’t stop thinking about wanting to get pregnant and have a baby.
While a woman in her twenties or thirties has a 25% chance of becoming pregnant with each menstrual cycle, some find it much more challenging to conceive than others. Additionally, the likelihood of conceiving decreases with age for both men and women.
If you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, you should go into your doctor’s office prepared to discuss your options for treatment. Consider the following queries as a checklist before you leave. Based on your specific condition, your doctor will be able to provide you with the most helpful guidance.
What is the first line of defense against infertility?
Many couples are devastated when they hear the word “infertility.” The good news is that, depending on your specific situation, medical advances make it highly likely that you will eventually be able to get (or stay) pregnant without intervention.
If your doctor diagnoses you with infertility, medications are usually the first-line treatment. These medications are intended to increase the chances of conception and pregnancy. They can take the form of hormone replacement therapy to stimulate ovulation in women or erectile dysfunction medications in men.
Depending on the reasons for previous miscarriages, doctors can also prescribe medications to increase your chances of remaining pregnant once you become pregnant. Furthermore, your doctor may advise both partners to make lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol consumption, or quitting smoking.
What effect does health have on fertility before conception?
While it is true that fertility declines with age, this is sometimes due to health conditions that develop as you get older. Thyroid problems, for example, can have an impact on fertility in women. Infections, cancer, and poor nutrition can all have an impact on both male and female fertility.
In addition, alcohol, smoking, and certain medications can all interfere with fertility. Examine your medication list, as well as your partner’s, to see if it is compatible with trying to conceive (TTC, as you may have seen it abbreviated in social forums). You and your partner should ideally be in good health before conception. This not only increases the chances of pregnancy but also has a direct impact on the baby’s health.
According to a 2019 review of studies, alcohol consumption by men even 6 months before conception increases the risk of congenital heart disease in the baby. Scientists advise women to stop drinking a year before getting pregnant.
During your medical examination, your doctor will make specific recommendations to help you achieve the best possible health.
Male fertility treatments vs. female fertility treatments
While women may be concerned that they are the source of infertility, it is impossible to know without a medical examination of both partners. A doctor can determine whether you are experiencing male or female infertility (or both).
Men’s fertility can be impacted by low sperm count or the inability to obtain or maintain an erection during intercourse. Erectile dysfunction medications may help in some cases. A low sperm count or quality does not rule out pregnancy, but it may make it more difficult or take longer.
Women experiencing infertility can find solace in the fact that there are numerous options available to help with ovulation issues, which are common causes of female infertility.
Some women simply require a boost in ovulating or ovulating regularly. To help induce ovulation, your doctor may also prescribe high-dose hormones such as estrogen. Other more potent medications are administered via injection, a procedure known as controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH).
In-vitro fertilization can be used to treat these (IVF). In this procedure, sperm and eggs are fertilized in a laboratory. Following fertilization, the egg(s) are transferred to your uterus during ovulation.
IVF is an excellent solution for some couples, but it can be prohibitively expensive for others. INVOcell is a newer and less expensive alternative to IVF (IVC). According to this 2016 study, “both IVF and IVC produced identical blastocysts for transfer, resulting in similar live birth rates.”
The main difference between the two procedures is that with IVC, the blastocyst (future baby) is kept in the vagina for 5 days before being transferred to the uterus. Because the procedure requires fewer fertility medications than IVF, the overall cost is lower.
What is the procedure for using assisted reproductive technology?
When TTC couples consider fertility treatments, they frequently think of medicine and IVF, but there are other options.
Fertility treatments involving more advanced procedures and techniques are referred to as assisted reproductive technology (ART). This includes in vitro fertilization. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a type of ART procedure in which sperm is injected directly into the uterus to help fertilize eggs.
Another option is third-party-assisted ART, in which couples can choose to have egg, embryo, or sperm donations. The decision to use a donated egg, sperm, or embryo can be an emotional one, and your doctor can help you weigh the pros and cons of this option.
The primary distinction between ART and COH is that conception occurs in a laboratory with ART. COH enables conception in the body without the need for a doctor’s visit.
When does surgery come into play in fertility treatments?
If your doctor discovers problems with your reproductive organs, he or she may recommend surgery. Surgery is sometimes used to repair torn or blocked fallopian tubes so that an egg can be released and fertilized successfully.
Female fertility surgery may also aid in the treatment of:
• scarring in the reproductive system
• fibroids in the uterus
In men, surgical options may be used to repair varicose veins in the testicles, known as varicoceles, which can contribute to infertility in some men (though many men with this condition have no trouble with fertility).
Varicoceles affects up to 15% of men, according to Trusted Source. They affect 35% of men with primary infertility.
This 2012 review of studies suggests that varicoceles surgery improves otherwise unexplained infertility — though researchers emphasize that more studies with live births or pregnancy rates as the intended outcome are needed. Surgery is also sometimes used to assist in the opening of tubes that transport sperm to the penis.
What are the dangers to parents and children?
While most medical procedures carry some level of risk, technology has advanced to the point where many fertility treatments are now regarded as quite safe for both the parents and the unborn child.
There are risks associated with surgery, such as infection, and fallopian surgery in women can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy (a potentially serious condition where an egg and subsequent fetus grow on the outside of your uterus). Before beginning treatment, ask your doctor as many questions as you need to ensure you are aware of and comfortable with any potential risks.
Scientists are attempting to determine whether fertility treatments pose any risks to a baby’s health after birth. According to a 2019 study published in Rusted Source, babies born after a frozen embryo transfer had a slightly increased risk of childhood cancer. This, however, only applied to frozen embryo transfers and not to babies born following IVF or other treatments.
Where a low birth weight is possible, the baby may face additional risks. According to a 2015 study by a reliable source, using ART for fertility increases the risk of premature birth. Premature birth occurs when your baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy. The danger increases if you are carrying multiple children.
What are the odds of having multiple children?
Multiple pregnancies may result from ART treatments. While such cases are decreasing, researchers estimate that by 2011, approximately 35% of twin births and 77% of triplet or higher-order births in the United States were the result of fertility treatments.
Doctors can now limit the number of embryos transferred to the uterus at one time to reduce this.
How successful are fertility treatments?
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates that between 85 and 90 percent of infertility cases are treatable. This is good news for the many families in America who are trying to overcome infertility. Aside from age and health, the success rate is also affected by the type of treatment chosen.
For example, IUI has a 20% trusted Source success rate for pregnancy, whereas embryo donation has a 50% trusted Source success rate. Your doctor can help you determine your chances of success based on various treatments.
How long does it take for fertility treatments to work?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer here. Some couples are successful within the first month of receiving medical assistance, while others struggle for years. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant, the process of fertility treatments can be long and exhausting. Your doctor will review your medical history and look for any potential reproductive issues in both you and your partner to help you choose the best treatment options.
Depending on the results of your doctor’s investigation, COH may be tried before ART. Even if ART is used, it may take several attempts before a pregnancy is achieved. Furthermore, these are only performed once a month, as a female ovulates only once every 28 days on average.
Choosing fertility treatments is a difficult decision, but your doctor can assist you in determining the best course of action for the best possible outcome.
Couples trying to conceive a child have a good chance of having a healthy pregnancy and experiencing the joys of parenthood.
Fertility treatments can help up to 9 out of 10 people who have been diagnosed as infertile. While some treatments may be expensive, stressful, and risky, it is still worthwhile to consult with your doctor about the best course of action.
Medical interventions have evolved, and now is one of the best times in history to receive assistance in the conceiving process.
How Much of Infertility Is Genetic?
You’ve most likely heard the term “infertility.” But what exactly does that mean? Simply put, infertility refers to the inability to become pregnant after a year or more of trying, or 6 months if you’re over the age of 35.
You are not alone if you are having difficulty conceiving. Infertility is more common than you may believe. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source, it affects 15% of reproductive-age couples worldwide.
Fertility issues may appear to have numerous causes, ranging from underlying health conditions to hormonal imbalances. You may be wondering if genetics play a role. Continue reading to learn about some of the genetic causes of infertility in both men and women, as well as how they’re diagnosed and treated.
What genetic conditions can cause female infertility?
Several conditions can cause female infertility. Let’s look into these now.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis are two common health conditions that can contribute to fertility issues in women.
PCOS causes a hormonal imbalance that can disrupt ovulation function. When this occurs, you may not ovulate every month, making it much more difficult to conceive.
Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows on the outside of the uterus. It frequently affects other parts of the female reproductive system, causing scarring and inflammation, both of which can reduce fertility.
At the end of the day, no one knows what causes either of these conditions. PCOS and endometriosis, on the other hand, are thought to have a genetic component. Both conditions are hereditary. This means that if a close female relative, such as a mother, sister, or aunt, has PCOS or endometriosis, you may be more likely to develop it as well.
Female fertility can also be affected by certain genetic disorders. Changes in DNA that affect one or more genes cause genetic disorders. These changes are sometimes passed down or inherited from one or both of your biological parents.
Among the genetic disorders that can contribute to female infertility are:
• Turner syndrome occurs when a female is born with an altered X chromosome or with only one X chromosome (instead of two). One of the consequences of this condition is that the ovaries do not develop normally.
• Fragile X premutation: A specific change in a gene called FMR1, which is found on the X chromosome, is present in the fragile X premutation. Because of this genetic change, the ovaries become less productive, limiting fertility.
• Kallmann syndrome is caused by mutations in several different genes. It causes the brain to produce low levels of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), resulting in delayed or absent puberty.
Turner syndrome and the fragile X premutation both have the potential to cause primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). In POI, the ovaries stop working before the age of 40. When this occurs, eggs cannot develop properly and you no longer ovulate.
The symptoms of Kallmann syndrome differ slightly. GnRH signals the ovaries to produce estrogen and progesterone, both of which are necessary for various aspects of female reproduction. As a result, low GnRH levels hurt fertility.
Changes in structure
Genetic changes may also result in structural changes in the female reproductive system. This can make it difficult to conceive or maintain a pregnancy.
What genetic conditions can cause male infertility?
Now that we’ve discussed the potential causes of female fertility issues, let’s look at some genetic causes in males.
Male fertility can be reduced by a variety of genetic disorders. We’ll look at a few notable examples now:
Syndrome of Klinefelter
Klinefelter syndrome is a genetic disorder characterized by an extra X chromosome in males. They, therefore, have two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome. The most common chromosomal cause of male infertility is Klinefelter syndrome. Its effects interfere with sperm production. Males with Klinefelter syndrome frequently produce no sperm at all.
Microdeletions on the Y-chromosome
Another genetic cause of male infertility is these types of deletions. The Y chromosome is only found in people who are born male and contains many of the genes that are associated with male sexual characteristics. A deletion is a missing section of a gene. Microdeletions on the Y chromosome can have an impact on sperm production. Males with such deletions, for example, may make:
• sperm that are not properly formed
• sperm that does not move efficiently
• a scarcity of sperm
• There is no sperm at all.
• CFTR gene alterations
Changes in the CFTR gene can also cause male fertility issues. While some changes in this gene cause the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis, others have a variety of effects on male fertility, including:
• reducing sperm count
• preventing sperm transport through
• male reproduction system
• resulting in improper development of
• system of male reproduction
In this syndrome, low GnRH production leads to lower testosterone production, which is necessary for sperm development.
Changes in structure
The structure of the male reproductive system can also be affected by genetic changes. This can have an impact on sperm production and transport.
What genetic conditions can result in a fetal loss?
Fetal loss can also be caused by genetic conditions. Many of these are related to fetal chromosomal changes. We’ve mentioned chromosomes a few times in this article, but now it’s time to get down to business.
A person typically has 23 pairs of chromosomes, one of which is a pair of sex chromosomes. You get one chromosome pair from each of your biological parents. Chromosomes contain all of the genes required for life. As a result, significant chromosomal changes can have serious consequences for a developing fetus.
A 2020 study looked at 406 fetal tissue samples after miscarriages in the first trimester. It was discovered that 64.8% of the samples tested positive for chromosomal changes. Growing older was linked to a higher risk of these changes.
Different types of chromosome changes
Aneuploidy is one of the most common causes of fetal loss, especially in early pregnancy. People with aneuploidy have more or fewer chromosomes than the average.
Aneuploidy occurs when three copies of a chromosome are present instead of two. Some trisomy fetuses are unable to survive to term.
However, some types of trisomies allow a fetus to reach full term. Individuals with trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome), for example, usually reach full term, whereas trisomy 16, which is incompatible with life, results in stillbirth.
Genetic changes can also occur on a smaller scale, but this does not make them any less serious. The following are examples of gene changes:
• According to 2019 research trusted Source, duplications or deletions of an individual or small groups of genes, rather than an entire chromosome, may also contribute to infertility or fetal loss.
• Translocations: Balanced translocations are chromosomal rearrangements in which all genetic material is present but rearranged. When one or both parents’ chromosomes mix with those of their partner due to a balanced translocation, the genes may mix in such a way that infertility results. Trusted Source or raises the chances of miscarriage A blood test that analyzes the person’s karyotype is used to diagnose these atypical changes.
We mentioned earlier that genetic changes could affect the structure of the female reproductive system. When the uterus is involved, pregnancy outcomes can also be affected.
A septate uterus is a type of uterine structural change that can result in fetal loss. This occurs when a band of tissue known as a septum runs down the center of the uterus, dividing it into two sections.
Because of the septum, there is much less space to accommodate a developing fetus. As a result, women who have a septate uterus are more likely to miscarry again. Other uterine congenital anomalies that may contribute to infertility include the bicornuate uterus, which is heart-shaped, and the unicornuate uterus, which only forms half of the uterus.
How do we identify and treat infertility-causing genetic disorders?
A doctor can run a battery of tests to determine the root of fertility issues. Such things may include:
• Analysis of Your and Your
• sexual and medical background of the other
• a medical checkup
• an examination of the sperm to determine their number, form, and activity.
• hormone screenings and ovulation detection tests
• Diagnostic imaging studies to check for structural defects in the reproductive system
Your doctor may suggest genetic testing if he or she suspects that a hereditary factor is contributing to your infertility problems. Preconception carrier screening (PCS) uses a blood sample to test for multiple inherited diseases that could harm fertility or be passed on to offspring.
A karyotype can be determined from a blood sample to confirm that a person has a complete set of 23 chromosomes. In addition, they can conduct testing to look for other genetic causes of fertility issues.
Is there a remedy for infertility causing genetic disorders?
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a genetic condition that interferes with fertility, you may be wondering what your options are for treatment. It depends is a very unsatisfying response.
Your doctor will go over the options available to you after determining the nature of the condition causing your infertility concerns. Both the individual and the condition being treated can affect these outcomes.
Fertility issues caused by structural changes in the reproductive system are often corrected through surgical intervention. Surgery on the male reproductive tract or the uterine septum to improve sperm mobility is two such examples.
Some couples may have more success getting pregnant if they have their hormone levels balanced or if they are supplemented with the hormones that are lacking. Kallmann syndrome, which affects both sexes, is one such condition. In some cases, natural conception may be a real challenge. This may alternative methods should be considered.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) are two examples of ART. Another option is intrauterine insemination (IUI) (ICSI). Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) is a diagnostic procedure used to check for chromosomal abnormalities in your embryos before they are implanted.
What is the prognosis for individuals with genetic conditions affecting fertility?
While some genetic causes of infertility are treatable, many people with genetic disorders that affect fertility may find it extremely difficult to conceive naturally.
As previously mentioned, IUI and IVF may be effective for some individuals. However, they may not be effective or recommended for others. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to start a family through alternative means. Some examples include:
• utilizing donor eggs or sperm
• using a substitute
It is also important to note that certain genetic conditions affecting fertility can be transmitted to offspring. If you or your partner have been diagnosed with a genetic condition that affects fertility, genetic counseling is essential.
A genetic counselor is a medical specialist in medical genetics. They can explain the results of genetic tests and the likelihood that a future child will inherit a specific genetic disorder.
Questions asked frequently
Now, let’s attempt to answer some of your additional questions about fertility issues.
What factors increase the likelihood of female infertility?
Among the factors that increase a woman’s risk of infertility are:
• advancing age
• having excess weight or being obese
• being underweight
• experiencing extreme weight fluctuations
• smoking cigarettes
• consuming alcohol in excess
• enduring intense physical or emotional stress Contracting sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, which can harm the female reproductive system
• Receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy
What factors increase the risk of male infertility?
These factors can increase the risk of infertility in men:
• advancing age
• having excess weight or being obese
• smoking cigarettes
• consuming alcohol in excess
• The abuse of marijuana, opioids, and cocaine
• the use of anabolic steroids
Being treated with chemotherapy or radiation while being exposed to heavy metals, pesticides, and fungicides.
Is infertility curable?
This question’s answer depends on the source of a person’s fertility concerns. In many instances, fertility issues can be addressed through a variety of methods, which may include:
• IVF and ICSI are forms of assisted reproduction.
If you are experiencing fertility issues, your doctor can provide you with a more accurate pregnancy prognosis.
Can you increase your fertility?
Making healthy lifestyle choices, in general, can help to increase fertility. These are some examples:
• consuming a well-balanced diet that:
• focuses on whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats
• focuses on antioxidant foods
• encourages the consumption of fiber and folate
• substitutes plant-based proteins for animal proteins
• uses high high-fat rather than low fat low-fat
• restricts the consumption of saturated and trans fats
• Consider taking a multivitamin on a daily
• controlling your weight if you are overweight or obese
• attempting to exercise most days of the week while avoiding overuse
• discovering methods to reduce stress in your daily life
• lowering or eliminating alcohol consumption
• If you drink alcohol, you should
• reducing your caffeine consumption, if you consume caffeine
• If you smoke, you should consider quitting.
Do infertile women have menstrual cycles?
Yes, while some causes of fertility issues may interfere with a female’s period, many women with these concerns still have menstrual periods.
Both males and females can experience infertility due to genetics. There are numerous distinct medical conditions or genetic disorders that can result in infertility.
Make an appointment with your doctor if you’re still having trouble conceiving after a year of trying (or six months if you’re 35 or older). They can run several tests to determine the root of your infertility. Your doctor will inform you of possible treatments if you are found to have a genetic disorder that affects fertility. There are many options available to you for starting a family, even though this time may feel overwhelming or frustrating.