Health is Key for Conception
The male and female reproductive system is amazing in what it can and will produce. During infertility, this system may have some areas which will require treatment in order to conceive.
Here are some of the causes of female infertility, affecting the female reproductive system, which in most instances, is treatable, with varying degrees of success.
Failure to ovulate
This is the most common cause of infertility in women. Failure to ovulate and release an egg. Lack of ovulation is mainly due to hormonal problems. Tests for correct levels are described on hormone blood tests. Ovulation is a females single most important function required for conception. Detailed information can be found on ovulation.
In the normal ovarian cycle, hormones from the pituitary gland and the ovaries are responsible for the healthy growth and maintenance of the ovum. In many cases of infertility, too little of one or too much of the other hormone may be present. During the cycle, the pituitary gland should release a huge amount of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) to bring about ovulation, but in may cases this fails to do so.
While some of these hormones may be present, there is not enough to ovulate. Another scenario may be a damaged or malfunctioning pituitary gland, which may produce none, or to much FSH or LH.
The incorrect levels of hormones may lead to polycystic ovary syndrome, and render the ovaries incapable of producing a mature egg and thus fail to ovulate.
These type of hormonal problems are often treated by fertility drugs, such as clomiphene, hCG or hMG. Different types of drugs will be prescribed as drug therapy treatment which can result in regular ovulation and for many will cure their temporary infertility problems.
In men, these same two hormones, LH and FSH, stimulate the male testes to produce sperm. Therefore if a man's pituitary gland does not release enough FSH or LH, his ability to produce sperm will be impaired.
A full explanation can be found on low sperm count.
In both male and female, the incorrect functioning of the thyroid and adrenal glands may affect sperm production and ovulation, respectively. Your fertility specialist will include testing these two glands as part of the infertility workup.
Hormones in the reproductive system, may interfere with conception in other ways than influencing ovulation. A fertilized egg needs progesterone in order to survive. Too little progesterone or if it is produced for too short a time, the egg may not survive. So an imbalance of progesterone and infertility could be the result.
The condition known as an inadequate luteal phase, is also treatable with drugs.
More information on the importance of the luteal phase can be found at ovulation cycle.
This common condition is an excess production of the pituitary hormone responsible for milk production in women. The condition may be due to a small benign tumour, called a prolactinoma. Such a condition may lead to an imbalance of FSH or LH, resulting in infrequent or absent periods in women.
- Tubal damage - caused by a previous ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, previous surgery, or chlamydia.
- Problems with fertilization - Sperm has to swim through large quantities of mucus secreted by the cervix to reach an egg to fertilise it. If there is too little mucus or it is too thick, sperm cannot traverse the cervical canal. If it contains antibodies that may attack the sperm, they will never reach the egg for fertilization to occur.
- Damage to the ovaries - The ovaries may fail to produce mature eggs, due to surgery, scarring, infection, or a side effect of radiation treatment. There may be no eggs produced, due to the early onset of menopause.
- Uterine conditions - Problems with the uterus cause about 10% of infertility in women, due to adhesions (scarring), polyps, fibroids and infertility or endometriosis.
Hormonal balance is required by both male and female for successful conception
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