20 to 30 per cent of couples in India face some kind of infertility-related issues

Infertility Treatment 

Infertility treatment has come a long way since Louise Brown was born on 25 July 1978 in London. Her parents faced complications of blocked fallopian tubes and underwent what would be later known as IVF or In Vitro Ferlilisation.

Although media refers to IVF as test tube baby procedure”, conception actually takes place in a Petri dish and this involves working with human gametes. Infertility means not being able to get pregnant even after one year of trying. Women, who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant, could also be infertile.

Modern lifestyle, use of drugs, smoking, drinking and late marriages have contributed to the increase in infertility cases.

Incidence Of Infertility 

According to studies, 20 to 30 per cent of couples in India face some kind of infertility-related issues. 

Is infertility only a woman’s concern? 

No. Infertility could be caused due to problems with the woman or with the man or sometimes with both. Reproduction process requires interaction between the female and male reproductive tracts. Woman ovulates and releases an egg that travels through the fallopian tube to uterus. Male produces sperm. Egg and sperm meet in the fallopian tube, where fertilisation occurs. Embryo then implants in the uterus for development. Infertility occurs when something in this process does not happen.

we shall discuss causes for infertility in women.

1. Failure to Ovulate Ovulatory disorders are one of the most common reasons why women are unable to conceive.

a) Hormonal Problem 

• Failure to produce mature eggs:

In about 50 per cent of cases of anovulation, ovaries do not produce normal follicles in which the eggs can mature. Ovulation is rare if the eggs are immature and the chance of fertilisation becomes almost nonexistent.

Malfunction of hypothalamus:

Hypothalamus sends signals to the pituitary gland, which in turn, sends hormonal stimuli to the ovaries to initiate egg maturation. If the Hypothalamus fails to control this process, the result will be immature eggs.

Malfunction of pituitary gland: Pituitary produces FSH and LH. The ovaries will be unable to ovulate properly if either too much or too little of these substances are produced.

b) Scarred Ovaries – Physical damage to the ovaries may result in failed ovulation.

c) Premature Menopause – Some women cease menstruation and begin menopause before normal age.

d) Follicle Problems – Unruptured follicle syndrome occurs in women who produce a normal follicle, with an egg inside it, yet the follicle fails to rupture. The egg remains inside the ovary and proper ovulation does not occur

2. Causes for Poorly Functioning Fallopian Tubes 

a. Blocked Fallopian Tubes 

• Infection: Caused by both bacteria and viruses, these infections cause inflammation resulting in damage.

• Genital Tuberculosis: Long standing infections which result in blocked fallopian tubes.

b. Abdominal Diseases: Most common of these are Appendicitis and Colitis, causing inflammation of the abdominal cavity, which can affect the fallopian tubes and lead to scarring and blockage.

c. Surgeries: Pelvic or abdominal surgery can result in adhesions that alter the tubes in such a way that eggs cannot travel through them.

d. Ectopic Pregnancy: This is a pregnancy that occurs in the tube itself and, even if carefully overcome, may cause tubal damage and is a potentially life-threatening condition.

e. Congenital Defects: Women may be born with tubal abnormalities.

3. Endometriosis: This condition is characterised by excessive growth of the lining of the uterus. Growth occurs not only in the uterus but also in the fallopian tubes, ovaries and pelvis.

4. Behavioural Factors: Certain habits and lifestyle factors may limit a couple’s ability to conceive. Diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol are some of the reasons.

5. Environmental and Occupational Factors: The ability to conceive may be affected by exposure to various toxins in the workplace or surrounding environment.

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