Wanting to have a child and start a family is a common dream for most people. However, getting pregnant is harder than we think.
Now, this can be refreshing if you are single, young, and nowhere near ready to have a child. But, for couples trying to conceive, infertility is stressful, emotionally draining, and highly isolating. The social stigma and taboo attached to topics of infertility additionally foster a culture where people are scared to open up about their issues and continue to suffer in silence.
As we mark National Infertility Awareness Week from April 23-29, addressing the emotional and mental burden of people dealing with infertility is important. National Infertility Awareness Week is a seven-day long event to help spread awareness about the various aspects of infertility and help make the journey of people dealing with it a tad bit easier.
This National Infertility Awareness Week, let us dive deeper into infertility, its causes, and available treatment options.
What Does Infertility Mean?
Infertility, though a lesser talked about topic, is a reality for many people. As per the American Psychiatric Association, infertility impacts about one in eight couples, or 12 percent of married women.
Infertility is a disorder associated with the reproductive system. An infertility diagnosis means you have not been able to get pregnant after one year of trying. For women above 35 years of age, this means they haven’t been able to conceive after six months of trying. Women who are able to conceive but cannot carry a child can also be given the same diagnosis.
Additionally, it is essential to note that despite the common notion, infertility is not just a women’s issue. It can affect men too. In fact, as per research by NOVA IVF, men, and women are likely to be equally affected by infertility issues. As per the Office on Women’s Health, one-third of infertility cases are associated with women, another one-third with men, and the rest by combined infertility issues.
Causes Of Male Fertility
Infertility in men can be related to the following reasons:
- production of effective sperms,
- adequate sperm count,
- shape of the sperm, and
- movement of the sperm.
Causes Of Female Infertility
Infertility in women can be related to the following reasons:
- ovulation, or the stage where a mature egg is released from the ovary,
- fertilization, or the stage where the sperm meets the egg, and
- implantation, or the stage where the fertilized egg is attached to the inner lining of the uterus to develop into a baby.
Certain risk factors are associated with the development of infertility in both males and females. These include the following:
- Age: Fertility and age in women are inversely proportional. Therefore, as women age, their fertility levels continue to decline and drop rapidly after age 37. Men over the age of 40 have higher chances of having fertility issues and babies with a medical condition.
- Tobacco and alcohol use: Smoking marijuana or tobacco by either of the partners can reduce the chances of conceiving. In the case of alcohol, there is no safe limit for pregnant women or those who are trying to conceive. For men, heavy drinking can increase the chances of infertility.
- Being underweight or overweight: An inactive lifestyle and higher weight can cause infertility in men and women. Those underweight or who function on a low-calorie diet can also face similar risks.
Infertility does not mean that you cannot get pregnant. This is a common misconception associated with infertility in the mainstream notion. This is why when people get an infertility diagnosis, the first thought that comes to their mind is that they will never be able to have a child. However, this is far from the truth. National Infertility Awareness Week aims to eradicate such notions and help people get valid and proper information and the right support systems.
Infertility means you are having difficulties with getting pregnant. However, this does not mean that getting pregnant is impossible for you. Once you discover the issues causing these problems, you can find ways to address them.
Read more: Moms – Your Mental Health Is Also Important
Infertility Treatment For Men
Infertility treatment options for men can include general solutions along with specific sexual problem-related options. These include:
1. Changing lifestyle: This includes starting or discontinuing medicines, adding exercises to your routine, limiting substances like alcohol or tobacco, and other behavioral and lifestyle factors.
2. Medications: Apart from lifestyle changes, specific medications can help enhance sperm count in men and increase the likelihood of conceiving. Medications can also be used to improve sperm production and testicular functioning.
3. Surgery: In cases of sperm blockage-related issues, surgery might be able to restore fertility.
Infertility Treatment For Women
The following treatment options are used for women to help restore fertility:
1. Fertility drugs: Fertility drugs are the preferred treatment option for women with ovulation disorders. These medications can help induce and modulate ovulation periods.
2. Intrauterine insemination (IUI): Using IUI, healthy sperm are placed in the uterus around the time of ovulation. The timing of IUI can be coordinated with regular ovulation cycles or fertility drugs.
3. Surgery: Surgeries are used for conditions like endometrial polyps, intrauterine scar tissue, or uterine spectrums.
National Infertility Awareness Week is the right time to spread awareness about couples struggling with infertility. It is important to address the significant misinformation, taboo, and stigma associated with the topic in order to build the right support systems for people dealing with such issues.
Apart from National Infertility Awareness Week, another important event aims to encourage empathy and awareness for people trying to conceive. Pregnancy And Infant Loss Awareness Month aims to understand the grief of parents dealing with loss and help promote awareness about the same. To learn more about it, click here.
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