Causes of Infertility

Understanding the cause of your infertility
can help us understand which treatment
pathway is right for you

INTRODUCTION

Infertility can affect both men and women and there are many possible causes but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get pregnant with the right help.

To understand more about the treatments available, we first have to review your medical history to see what the cause of the problem is.

This may be as simple as helping you to eliminate any known risk factors to enable you to lead a healthier lifestyle, or it could require diagnosing and treating an unknown or existing medical condition which has been affecting your natural ability to conceive or carry a pregnancy successfully to term.

Male factor causes:

Sperm Abnormalities

A low sperm count, poor sperm motility or abnormally shaped sperm can reduce your ability to fertilise an egg.

  • Low sperm count is evident in cases where a man has fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen.
  • Sperm motility is the ability of the sperm to move (or swim) progressively forward to fertilise an egg.
  • Abnormally sized or shaped sperm can affect the ability of the sperm to reach and fertilise an egg.
  • Sperm DNA fragmentation.
Anatomical Causes

Any trauma, illness, infections and subsequent treatment, including surgery may have damaged or blocked either the testes – in which sperm and the male sex hormones are produced, the tubes – through which the semen is delivered (vas deferens), or other primary structures within the male anatomy which can affect fertility.

Hormonal Causes

If you have a condition which has lowered your Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels, this can result in low or no sperm production and low blood testosterone levels.

Genetic Causes

Many inherited (genetic) diseases can cause low or no sperm production e.g. Klinefelter’s Syndrome.

Medication and drugs

Some prescription drugs can reduce your chances of conceiving, so if you are taking regular medication, speak to your doctor about suitable alternatives. The use of recreational drugs should be completely avoided.

Age

To a lesser extent than female fertility, male fertility can also decline with age and this may impact time to pregnancy, risk of miscarriage and the overall health of your child.

If you or your partner have been diagnosed with sperm/semen abnormalities, or anatomical, hormonal or genetic issues, there are several options for treatment available.

Female factor causes:

The Age Factor

For women, your age remains THE most important factor affecting your ability to have a child.

As we age, our fertility naturally declines. The decline starts for a woman in her early 30s, with the biggest decrease occurring after 35 years of age. This is because a woman is born with a finite amount of eggs in her ovaries and these diminish over time in both quantity and quality.  The remaining cases of female infertility are linked to other conditions including anatomical problems and hormone imbalances.

Hormonal

Having a hormonal Imbalance is one of the leading causes of female infertility as it can affect your ability to ovulate – which leads to infrequent or no ovulation.  Other examples are hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), hyperprolactinemia (high male hormone levels) and luteal phase defect (low progesterone levels).

Ovarian

Having an ovarian disorder means that you ovulate infrequently or not at all. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one such cause of female infertility and affects approximately 1 in 5 women in the UK.

Uterine

Having a known or being diagnosed with a uterine abnormality usually means that you are likely to suffer from conditions such as fibroids, polyps or endometriosis which can lead to scar tissue or adhesions, even after these have been previously treated.

Tubal

Scarring or adhesions in the fallopian tubes, results from a previous surgery or possibly an infection, such Chlamydia, Appendicitis or IBS can cause tubal blockages.

Cervical

Sometimes antibodies are found in a woman’s cervical mucus which can actually go on the attack, killing the sperm before it even has a chance to make it to an awaiting egg. This is known as Cervical Hostility and can be caused by an infection in the lower reproductive tract or from an overly acidic diet.

Other Factors – Your Lifestyle

Weight

Being overweight or obese (with a BMI of greater than 30), or severely underweight (with a BMI of less than 18.5) can cause issues with ovulation in women as weight – at any extreme, is recognised to have an impact on the regularity of your periods. For men, being severely overweight can lead to a general decrease in libido and ultimately is known to impact the quality of semen produced.

Smoking

Smoking can affect a woman’s fertility by reducing her chance of conceiving and can also increase the risk of miscarriage. For men, toxins in cigarettes are widely known to have an adverse effect on the quality of their sperm as smoking can increase DNA damage.

Alcohol

For women, drinking high quantities alcohol can affect your chances of conceiving naturally and may also have a negative effect on a pregnancy, whilst for men, drinking excessive alcohol can lower testosterone levels, sperm quality and quantity as well as possibly reducing libido and causing impotence.

Medications

Long term use of certain medications can have a disruptive effect the reproductive organs and may lead to issues with ovulation and the quality/quantity of sperm produced.

Environmental

Long-term extensive exposure to certain toxins, pesticides, chemicals and metals used in the workplace or even present in the surrounding environment can affect your ability to conceive and in extreme cases, may also lead to sterility.

Stress & Anxiety

Being extremely stressed or anxious can suppress ovulation in women, reduce sperm count in men and lower libido in both sexes.

STI’s

Sexually transmitted diseases are known to impact both female and male reproductive organs and cause problems with fertility. Whilst some can be treated, an undiagnosed STI may have a long-term impact on your ability to conceive.

Why Choose Us?

Here are some facts about your fertility journey with us that we’d like to share with you:

Every evaluation and treatment plan is uniquely tailored to meet your individual needs

You will have access to leading professionals, with over 35 years combined expertise, providing you with confidence and reassurance in your fertility diagnosis and subsequent treatment

Our multidisciplinary team includes specialists in fertility, urology, nutrition, counselling, genetics, endocrinology, haematology and weight management to provide a comprehensive range of support as and when you need it

We will work with you closely to understand your individual circumstances, identify any problems and agree with you, the best course of action to help make your dream a reality

We will always be honest and open about your chances of success with treatment.

Your comfort and care is always our top priority

Our focus remains entirely on you as an individual, your unique needs and your wellbeing

All investigations and treatments are provided within our new state-of-the-art clinic based in Elstree which offers a spacious environment with comfortable surroundings, to enhance your care and experience. We offer investigations and scans at our satellite locations too.

Our friendly consultant-led team is here to support you at every step throughout your fertility journey

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