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Common Causes of Infertility

written by: weborglodge • edited by: BStone • updated: 12/24/2010

Understanding the common causes of infertility can help you understand how to overcome your barrier to pregnancy and the options for infertility treatments. You may find comfort in the fact that about 10 to 15 percent of American couples share your condition.

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    Infertility in Females

    empty crib Female infertility alone is a factor in about 50 percent of infertility cases. Sometimes the cause is physical in origin. There may be damage to the fallopian tubes which can impair delivery of eggs to the uterus.

    Since ovulation is triggered by hormonal factors, one of the common causes of infertility in women revolves around hormone release. The levels of hormones may be low which in turn, prevents ovulation. Anything which can impact hormone secretion such as excessive exercise, injuries, or tumors can cause infertility in women.

    Some infertility causes involve barriers in the woman's cervix which prevents the sperm from entry into the woman's body. Blockages or narrowing of this passageway will make it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus.

    Likewise, tumors or other abnormalities of the uterus may prevent implantation of the egg. In addition, physical ailments such as endometriosis can also impair your body's ability to conceive. Unfortunately, in about 20 percent of the cases, the cause of female infertility may not be determined.

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    Male Infertility

    Male infertility has an equally wide range of causes both genetic and physical. In order to conceive, the man must be able to produce healthy sperm in sufficient numbers. Any disorder involving the testicles can potentially cause infertility. Tumors which affect the testicle or the glands which secrete sex hormones may impact sperm production and vitality. Physical defects in the sperm ducts may also cause male infertility.

    With men, there are also emotional factors. A man has to be able to perform, naturally, in order for pregnancy to occur. Substance abuse, alcoholism, or emotional issues may interfere with a man's ability to ejaculate. Other common causes of infertility include exposure to pesticides or x-rays as well as certain antibiotics which may also affect sperm production and delivery.

    Unrelated health conditions may play a role in male infertility. Uncontrolled celiac disease can impair sperm production due in part to malabsorption of nutrients. Your body may be physically incapable of producing good quality sperm due to nutrient deficiencies.

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    Determining Infertility Causes

    Your doctor may begin with a detailed history of both you and your partner to help discover any obvious cause. Blood tests can help your doctor identify abnormalities in hormone production in both the man and woman. For men, a sperm count and ultrasound examinations can help pinpoint physical causes of male infertility.

    Women may undergo tests to determine her ovulation activity. An internal examination of the female reproductive system may undercover physical barrier to pregnancy. Armed with this information, your doctor can then recommend which of the infertility treatments is best in your particular case. Hopefully, in time, you and your partner will overcome the infertility causes and experiences the joys of parenthood.

    Photo by Emmanuel Garcia, stock.xchng

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    References

    Mayo Clinic: Male infertility mayoclinic.com

    Web MD: Your Guide to Female Infertility webmd.com