Overview

Infertility is defined as the biological inability of a woman or man to contribute to conception. Many experts define infertility as not being able to get pregnant after at least one year of trying. Women who are able to get pregnant but then have repeat miscarriages are also said to be infertile.

Although it is commonly believed that infertility is heavily related to female factors, only about one- third of cases actually stem from the woman. Another one-third originates from the male partner and the remaining cases are a combination of unknown factors or a mix of male and female complications.

Most women who suffer from infertility have a problem with ovulation, meaning there is a complication with the eggs being released fertilization.
Infertility in men is generally caused by producing too few or no sperms at all. The problem may also be due to the sperm's inability to travel to the female's egg and fertilize it. This is typically caused by abnormal sperm shape that prevents it from traveling in the correct form.
  • If there is a lack of egg production, doctors would use ovulation induction methods
  • If sperm quality is poor or have difficulties with intercourse, the couple should try artificial insemination (IUI)
  • If there are presence of cysts or endometriosis or unfavourably situated fibroids, the woman may need surgery
  • Finally, if the tubes are blocked beyond repair or the sperm is profoundly poor, the couple may need Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) or test tube baby treatment such as Invitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).
Initially used more in cases where the fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged, IVF is now used to treat many causes of infertility, such as endometriosis and male factors, or when a couple's infertility cannot be explained. The basic steps is an IVF treatment cycle are :
  • Ovarian stimulation: Medication or "fertility drugs" are used to stimulate multiple eggs to grow in the ovaries rather than the single egg that normally develops each month.
  • Egg retrieval
  • Fertilisation and embryo culture
  • Embryo transfer
 

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