Common causes of female infertility and ways to deal with it

In India, infertility has become a growing cause for concern. Going by current estimates, around 1 in 5 Indian couples will experience problems with infertility. Understanding the hurdles in conception, the solution could help couples take steps to manage their condition

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Motherhood is every woman’s dream. For any woman trying to start a family, an infertility diagnosis can be shattering. It is recommended that couples should visit a fertility specialist if they haven’t been able to conceive even after one year of unprotected sex. For women with age above 35, this duration falls to six months.

Understanding ovulation schedule and planned intercourse can make a difference

It helps you to be aware of that when will you ovulate, or the time period during which the egg is released from the ovary. There are different ways of calculating the ovulation cycle which will help you know the fertile days when you can get pregnant.

Once aware of the ovulation schedule, the couple can consequently plan their intercourse during the most fertile days which is three days before the day of ovulation.

Hormonal imbalance such as PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is condition set by hormonal imbalance in women that upsets ovulation. Most females with PCOS have multiple cysts in the ovaries.

Symptoms of PCOS include irregular menstrual cycle, excessive hair growth on the body and face, diabetes and obesity and metabolic disorder.

Treatment of PCOS includes changes in lifestyle such as intake of healthy diet, regular exercises to keep a check on the weight, and might involve laparoscopic surgery to get rid of cysts.

Complications with pregnancies post 35 years of age

It is a known fact that fertility reduces with age, especially if you are above 35. The decline in fertility progresses through late 30’s till mid 40’s when it gets as low as 1% every cycle.

Complications associated with older age pregnancies are miscarriage, premature delivery, stillbirth, and gestational diabetes, bleeding complications, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, C-section, chromosomal abnormalities and growth retardation in babies.

The solution to overcome these complications is to get a regular health check-up. Fertility experts will be able to answer questions about your pregnancy diet, safe prenatal exercise, any environmental factors you should avoid for the next nine months and help manage pre-existing and chronic conditions if they exist.

Multiple spontaneous miscarriages

In women over 38 years old, 79% of embryos have chromosomal abnormalities, which is a major reason for recurrent miscarriages or IVF failures. The risk of abnormalities increases as the age of the mother increases.

Advanced genetic tests like POC (Products of conception) can help overcome the problem of multiple miscarriages. POC is used to determine the cause of miscarriage. Foetal tissue is checked for abnormalities and then further treatments or methods of conception are advised.

Factoring in male infertility

Infertility in both men and women are common today. Infertility in men has increased in India due to the wrong habits and poor lifestyles. Infertility in men could be due to hormonal problems, physical problems such as ductal blockage, infection/disease, erectile dysfunction (ED), premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation or poor sperm concentration or sperm motility.

A diagnostic test called Sperm Aneuploidy Test (SAT) can help to study the genetic aetiology of male infertility. It facilitates to evaluate the presence of an abnormal number of chromosomes in the sperm.

Also, in couples with severe male factor infertility, there is a higher risk of transmission of sperm chromosomal abnormalities to the offspring.

IVF treatment failures

Often failures in the IVF treatment can be attributed to a lack of synchronisation rather than pathological reasons. If the embryo quality is good, the cycle can still fail if the uterus is not ready. This emphasises on the need of personalising IVF treatments as per the clinical diagnosis of the patient.

Simple genetic tests today can help select quality embryos and identify the right time for transfer. Test like Pre-implanation Genetic Screening (PGS) can helps you to select the chromosomally normal embryo and Endometrial Receptivity Analysis (ERA) can help identify the right window of implantation for embryo transfer for that particular patient.

The article mentions only some of the conditions related to fertility issues and their solution. However, at times fertility problems can be unexplained. But a few things that can help you increase your chances of a natural pregnancy include understanding your fertility pattern, a preconception check-up along with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

The author holds a Ph.D and is the Laboratory Manager of IGENOMIX India.