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About infertility

If you are having problems conceiving, you are not alone; around one in seven couples has difficulty.

Infertility is often thought of as a female concern, but in fact in a third of cases it is because of male problems, such as a low sperm count.

What causes infertility?

Infertility in women

Conditions affecting a woman’s fertility can include:

  • damage to the fallopian tubes
  • ovulatory problems
  • endometriosis
  • conditions affecting the uterus
  • a combination of factors
  • no identifiable reason.

Other factors that may play a part include:

  • age – female fertility declines sharply after the age of 35
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • gynaecological problems such as previous ectopic pregnancy or having had more than one miscarriage
  • medical conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, and thyroid and bowel diseases
  • lifestyle factors such as stress, being overweight or underweight, and smoking.

Infertility in men

Conditions that may result in infertility include:

  • low sperm count or quality
  • problems with the tubes carrying sperm
  • problems getting an erection
  • problems ejaculating.

Other factors that may play a part in infertility include:

  • having had inflamed testes (orchitis)
  • a past bacterial infection that caused scarring and blocked tubes within the epididymis as it joins the vas
  • having received medical treatment such as drug treatment, radiotherapy or surgery – for example to correct a hernia, undescended testes or twisted testicles
  • genetic problems
  • diabetes
  • lifestyle factors such as being overweight or having a job that involves contact with chemicals or radiation.

Male fertility is also thought to decline with age, although to what extent is unclear.

 

Related links: infertility

 

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Page last updated: 01 June 2012

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