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Infertility Made Simple: Know The Types, Causes, Risk Factors, & Treatment

Home > Blogs > Infertility Made Simple: Know The Types, Causes, Risk Factors, & Treatment

Infertility Made Simple: Know The Types, Causes, Risk Factors, & Treatment

Obstetrics and Gynaecology | by Dr. Archana Sinha | Published on 24/03/2023

One of the most common problems faced by couples in modern times is not being able to conceive a child. If you or your partner are struggling to have a baby, then you are among the 27.5 million people. However, not being able to conceive a child is one thing and infertility is another. 

In India, the discussion on infertility usually remains taboo and is often considered a subject of shame. However, recent studies and advanced medical research have increased awareness about infertility and given a broader perspective on its causes and treatment. Read along to know more about the issue of infertility in men and women and different methods to treat the condition. However, please note that this blog is only for informational purposes, and you must consult with a specialist for effective treatment.

What Is Infertility?

Infertility means when the couple is not able to conceive a child despite having frequent and unprotected sex for more than a year. Infertility can be a result of issues with either you or your partner, or sometimes, a combination of both.

Globally, 48 million couples and 186 million individuals live with infertility. If left untreated, infertility can restrict you from bearing a child, which for some couples can be the ultimate dream to become a parent.

Infertility can be classified into different types based on gender and severity. Depending on the gender, the classification is simple - Male infertility & Female infertility. Now, based on severity, we have - Primary infertility where pregnancy has never been achieved by the individual & Secondary infertility when at least one prior pregnancy was achieved. The advantage of classifying infertility types is to opt for the most effective treatment method. 

How To Know If You Are At A Risk Of Infertility?

It is very difficult to know if the primary reason for not being able to conceive the child is due to male or female infertility. It is only after a series of diagnostic tests that the doctor can state infertility as the reason for not being able to conceive. However, there are several early signs and symptoms which can indicate infertility. 

Infertility symptoms can vary from one individual to another depending on their gender, medical health, age, etc. The most apparent symptom of infertility is being able to conceive. Sometimes, women with infertility may have irregular or absent menstrual periods. Men with infertility may show signs of hormonal issues like changes in hair growth or sexual function.

Women should consult a healthcare professional for infertility treatment if - 

  • They are above 35 years old and have been trying to conceive for six months or longer
  • Have painful, irregular or absent periods
  • Have a history of fertility problems
  • They are diagnosed with endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease
  • They have had a history of multiple miscarriages
  • They have undergone treatment for cancer

Men should consult a healthcare professional for their infertility treatment if - 

  • They have a low sperm count
  • Other medical problems associated with sperm 
  • A history of testicular, prostate or sexual problems
  • Undergone treatment for cancer
  • Small testicles or swelling in the scrotum
  • Heredity problems associated with infertility

What Are the Causes Of Infertility in Men and Women?

One of the most common causes of any acquired medical condition is usually our lifestyle or a history of any injury/trauma. The process of ovulation and fertilization needs to happen correctly in order to get pregnant, but due to several factors, the chances of conceiving a child become rare. 

Several risk factors contribute to the progression of infertility which may not directly impact a person’s ability to bear children but gradually diminishes the chances. Risk factors which can trigger both male and female infertility include ageing, smoking, excessive substance or alcohol abuse, radiation therapy (in case of cancer treatment), diabetes, obesity, chronic stress, history of injury to the scrotum, undescended testicles, abnormal menstruation, and several others. 

Infertility Causes in Males

  • Low sperm count (oligospermia)
  • Low sperm motility
  • Abnormally shaped sperm
  • Lack of sperm (azoospermia)
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Severe varicocele
  • Retrograde ejaculation (when semen goes into the bladder instead of out of the penis)
  • Immunologic infertility (anti-sperm antibodies)
  • Obstruction in the male reproductive tract
  • Low levels of testosterone
  • Certain medications

Infertility Causes in Females

  • Fibroids
  • Adhesions inside the uterus cavity
  • Problems with fallopian tubes
  • Problems with ovulation
  • No egg release
  • Low-quality eggs
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Severe endometriosis
  • Excessive substance use

What Are The Treatment Options For Infertility in Men and Women?

Infertility treatment differs for both men and women. After the diagnostic tests confirm infertility, the next step is to opt for the best treatment options. The treatment for infertility in men aims to solve general sexual problems and improve healthy sperm.

Doctors generally recommend lifestyle changes improving certain behaviours which can increase the chances of pregnancy. Lifestyle changes such as reducing medications, eliminating harmful substances from the diet, improving the frequency and timing of sexual intercourse, and proper exercising can increase sperm health.

If the above infertility treatment methods are ineffective, surgical intervention may be an alternate option. Surgery may be able to reverse sperm blockage and restore fertility. In other conditions, where fertility may be due to medical reasons like varicocele, treating the condition may improve the chances of pregnancy. 

Additionally, there is a method of sperm retrieval technique for patients with problems associated with ejaculation fluid. This technique is usually recommended in the case of assisted reproductive techniques.

For women, the doctor recommends one or two therapies to improve fertility. Depending on the type and extent of infertility, there are fertility drugs which can help stimulate ovulation. Another method for infertility treatment involves Intrauterine insemination (IUI) where the healthy sperm are placed directly in the uterus. The timing of IUI can be coordinated with your normal cycle depending on the causes of infertility.

Surgery is the last resort to tackle infertility due to medical conditions like endometrial polyps, a uterine septum, intrauterine scar tissue and some fibroids. Hysterectomy can be effective in treating these conditions with a high success rate. Additionally, assisted reproductive technology (ART) which includes - 

  • In Vitro Fertilization [IVF]
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection [ICSI]
  • Assisted hatching
  • Gestational carrier
  • Surrogacy
  • Adoption


Does female masturbation cause infertility?

Masturbation does not affect fertility in females at all. While there are many myths surrounding infertility in males and females, irrespective of age or gender, masturbation does not affect your ability to become pregnant.

Does Meftal spas cause infertility?

Prolonged use of Meftal spas can impact women’s infertility resulting in delayed ovulation and inducing reversible infertility. It usually occurs due to blockage of the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX). Discuss your condition with the doctor if your monthly consumption of the medicine is abnormal. 

Do sabja seeds cause infertility?

Sabja seeds may slow down the heart rate and blood pressure causing hypoglycemia and infertility in men. Women must discuss their condition with the doctor if they are pregnant or lactating mothers regarding the consumption of these seeds.

What causes infertility in men?

Infertility in men can be caused by a combination of several factors and medical conditions such as low sperm count, low sperm motility, abnormally shaped sperm, lack of sperm, erectile dysfunction, varicocele, retrograde ejaculation, obstruction in the male reproductive tract, low levels of testosterone, etc.