Monday, December 31, 2007

Female Infertility Factors

If you have had difficulty conceiving for more than twelve months, or six months if you are over 35 years of age, you may be wondering if you are infertile. Researchers estimate that one in six couples face fertility challenges as a result of male or female health complications. There are multitudes of factors that can affect your chances of conception. Here we will briefly outline three major causes of infertility in women: endometriosis, fallopian tube damage or blockage, and ovulation disorders.

Endometriosis occurs when uterine tissue shed during a woman’s “period” implants outside of the uterus. The implanted tissue responds to the hormonal cycle and continues to grow, shed, and bleed in sync with the lining of the uterus each month. This can lead to inflammation and eventually scarring which adversely affects functions of the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes. Pelvic pain and infertility are common in women with endometriosis. Upon examination, more than 40% of infertile women of reproductive age are found to have endometriosis. Laparoscopic surgery to remove abnormal tissue is a commonly used treatment option for this condition.

Fallopian tube damage usually results from inflammation of the fallopian tube. This blocks the passage of the egg through the fallopian tubes on its way to fertilization and implantation in the uterus. Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease, is the most frequent cause. Tubal inflammation can cause pain and fever, or it may go unnoticed. Tubal damage is the major risk factor for ectopic pregnancy. Here a fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tubes. One episode of tubal infection may cause fertility difficulties. The risk of ectopic pregnancy increases with each occurrence of tubal infection.

Some cases of female infertility are caused by ovulation disorders. Disruption in the part of the brain that regulates ovulation can cause low levels of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. Even slight irregularities in the hormone system can affect ovulation. Specific causes of hypothalamic-pituitary disorders include injury, tumors, excessive exercise and starvation. Ovulation-stimulating drugs, follicle-stimulating hormones, human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), and in vitro fertilization are possible treatments for this condition.

If you are one of the many couples experiencing problems with conception talk to your general practitioner. Most of these problems can be resolved with medical treatment or lifestyle adjustments. Your doctor will be able to diagnose any conditions present and give you treatment options, or refer you to a specialist.


About the Author:

Eric Daiter has been sponsored by The NJ Center for Reproductive Medicine, a leading provider of infertility treatment, to write information about endometriosis symptoms. For more information, please visit www.infertilitytutorials.com

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Semen Analysis

For couples facing infertility, it is necessary for both partners to undergo equally thorough examinations. Male factors are found to be the sole cause of infertility in one third of couples, and are in combination with female factors in over half of all infertility cases. This usually comes down to problems related to semen production or delivery. Typically a thorough medical history is taken, and a semen analysis is done. The semen analysis test is the best way to help doctors determine whether or not a man’s sperm has the ability to fertilize an egg.

While a woman is born with all the eggs she will have in her lifetime, the male testes are continually producing sperm by a process known as spermatogenesis. It takes about three months for spermatozoa to reach maturity. Abnormalities at any point in this process can contribute to the male factor infertility.

The semen analysis test is simple. For a proper analysis, two samples should be taken at different times with at least 48 hours between ejaculations. The samples are measured, put on slides, and examined under a microscope. An individual’s test results can vary significantly, and a single abnormal result may be no cause for alarm, only an indication for further testing. A wide range of factors based on genetics, lifestyle, and presence of various medical conditions can affect the quality of sample as well. Five major factors that contribute to sperm quality are: sperm count, concentration, motility, speed, and morphology or shape.

Sperm count is the number of sperm present in a sample. Normal samples will contain around 40 million spermatozoa. Some causes for low sperm count may be exposure to excessive heat or radiation, drug use, consumption of alcohol, smoking, previous medical surgeries, or infection. Concentration refers to the amount of sperm present per millilitre of ejaculate. Results can range between 2 million/ml and 300 million/ml, but average around 40 million/ml. Conditions such as azoospermia, where sperm is produced but unable to mix with the ejaculate, contribute to low sperm count. Motility describes the sperm’s ability to move in fluid, or its “swimming ability”. This enables the sperm to make the journey through the uterus and fallopian tubes to penetrate the egg. In healthy samples at least half the sperm should be active. Speed is a measure of the forward progress a sperm makes. The morphology of a sperm should be similar to that of a tadpole. The genetic material is contained in the head while the tail provides propulsion.

Comparing these factors to set standards helps fertility specialists target possible causes of male infertility. A closer look at specific areas is necessary to develop the most effective infertility treatment plan.


About the Author:

Eric Daiter has been sponsored by The NJ Center for Reproductive Medicine, a leading provider of infertility treatment, to write information about male infertility. For more information, please visit www.infertilitytutorials.com


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The Pain of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue found in the lining of the uterus attaches to organs and other areas outside the uterus. It is thought to occur in 10-20% of women between the ages of 20 and 45. While the cause of endometriosis is still unknown, there is a relationship between hormone estrogen and immune system dysfunctions.

During a women’s menstruation the lining of the uterus bleeds and sheds and is forced out of the uterus by small uterine contractions. Uterine tissue, called endometrium, that is shed makes its way into the pelvic cavity. This is referred to as retrograde menstruation. This displaced tissue may then implant on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and on top of the uterus or its supporting ligaments. Other areas of occurrence are the abdomen, the area between the vagina and rectum, bowel, bladder, vagina, cervix, vulva, and in abdominal surgical scars. In rare circumstances they can be found in the lungs, arms, or thighs.

Women who suffer from endometriosis have been found to have excess levels of estrogen in their system. Studies have proposed that women with excessive levels of estrogen are at higher risk for endometriosis. This is because estrogen stimulates cell growth. Normally, the immune system is able to take care of any endometrial tissue that finds its way in to the pelvic cavity via retrograde menstruation. However, high levels of estrogen counteract the body’s ability to cope with the invading tissue. The immune system is overwhelmed and the implanted tissue grows and flourishes. This tissue will continue to respond to the hormonal cycle, and the shedding and bleeding causes inflammation and scarring.

One difficulty in diagnosing endometriosis is that the symptoms mimic several other medical conditions, such as ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, fibroid tumors, or irritable bowel syndrome. The most common of endometriosis symptoms is pain. However, some women may experience no symptoms at all. Other symptoms include pain in the abdomen and lower back associated with the changes occurring during the menstrual cycle, pain experienced during intercourse, heavy or irregular periods, painful bowel movements and urination, diarrhoea or constipation, fatigue, and general chronic pain at any time. Additionally, endometriosis will cause infertility in 40% of women affected.

Treatment of endometriosis is the subject of some controversy, as the exact causes of the condition are unknown. Some treatments may focus on eliminating or reducing the amount of estrogen a woman’s body produces. Laparoscopy is a common infertility treatment when endometriosis affects a woman’s ability to become pregnant. Less obtrusive treatments suggest changes in diet and exercise routine, thereby strengthening the body’s muscles and immune system which help the body naturally fight the condition.



About the Author:

Eric Daiter has been sponsored by The NJ Center for Reproductive Medicine, a leading provider of infertility treatment, to write information about endometriosis symptoms. For more information, please visit www.infertilitytutorials.com



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