Symptoms (from Book: Mayo Clinic Guide to Fertility and Conception)
The main symptom of infertility is not getting pregnant. There may be no other obvious symptoms. Sometimes, a woman with infertility may have irregular or absent menstrual periods. In some cases, a man with infertility may have some signs of hormonal problems, such as changes in hair growth or sexual function.
All of the steps during ovulation and fertilization need to happen correctly in order to get pregnant. Sometimes the issues that cause infertility in couples are present at birth, and sometimes they develop later in life.
Infertility causes can affect one or both partners. In general:
· In about one-third of cases, there is an issue with the man
· In about one-third of cases, there is an issue with the woman
· In the remaining cases, there are issues with both the man and the woman, or no cause can be found
What are the causes of infertility in men?
· Low sperm count or abnormal sperm function
· problems with the delivery of sperm and subsequent fertilization
What are the causes of infertility in women?
Hormonal issues: When hormone disorders are present, problems with ovulation can occur.
Disorders of the thyroid gland: Either too much thyroid hormone or too little thyroid hormone can interfere with the menstrual cycle or cause infertility
Gland disorders: These hormonal disorders may include polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or problems with the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, adrenal gland (such as Cushing's syndrome or congenital adrenal hyperplasia)
Structural issues: Benign growths (such as polyps and fibroids) in the uterus, blocked fallopian tubes, abnormal anatomy of the cervix or uterus, endometriosis, scar tissue
Fallopian tube damage can include scarring from prior surgery and/or pelvic infections. These include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) due to chlamydia or gonorrhea. Problems with transportation of the egg(s) can occur due to damaged or blocked fallopian tubes.
Diminished ovarian reserve, premature menopause or cessation of ovulation (primary ovarian insufficiency); changes in egg quality or quantity can affect fertility
Poor diet that is lacking in nutrients
Too much exposure to certain chemicals and toxins (for example, tobacco smoke, alcohol, marijuana, pesticides, radiation, and chemotherapy)
Certain medications (the effect usually is temporary)
Sickle cell disease
Many of the risk factors for both male and female infertility are the same. They include:
· Age. Women's fertility gradually declines with age, especially in the mid-30s, and it drops rapidly after age 37. Infertility in older women is likely due to the lower number and quality of eggs, and can also be due to health problems that affect fertility. Men over age 40 may be less fertile than younger men.
· Tobacco use. Smoking tobacco or marijuana by either partner may reduce the likelihood of pregnancy. Smoking also reduces the possible effectiveness of fertility treatment. Miscarriages are more frequent in women who smoke. Smoking can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction and a low sperm count in men.
· Alcohol use. For women, there's no safe level of alcohol use during conception or pregnancy. Alcohol use may contribute to infertility. For men, heavy alcohol use can decrease sperm count and motility.
· Being overweight. Among American women, an inactive lifestyle and being overweight may increase the risk of infertility. For men, sperm count also may be affected by being overweight.
· Being underweight. Women at risk of fertility problems include those with eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, and those who follow a very low-calorie or restrictive diet.
· Exercise issues. A lack of exercise contributes to obesity, which increases the risk of infertility. Less often, ovulation problems may be associated with frequent strenuous, intense exercise in women who are not overweight.
How TCM Treat Infertility (from https://weilab.com/)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) think that infertility occurs due to disrupted vital balance and blockages in the Qi energy and Blood circulation flow. When the free flow of the energy is blocked, it can cause deficiency, stagnancy or heat syndrome.
Infertility in Women
If the infertility is caused by poor egg quality, TCM will try to enhance blood flow to the female reproductive system to increase blood flow to the uterus, then results in helping increase the level of anti-Müllerian hormone produced whose role is folliculogenesis.
If the infertility is caused by hormonal imbalance, TCM will try to balance hormones by enhance blood flow to the female organs and warm up the uterus and improve liver function.
Infertility in Men
Male infertility is caused by low sperm production, abnormal sperm function, or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. In TCM, male infertility can be linked to a kidney deficiency, a liver qi stagnation, a deficiency in qi, and blood stasis. Any one of these can cause a decrease in sperm quality.
A kidney deficiency, in TCM, is the fundamental pathogenesis of male infertility. It has been shown that a kidney deficiency often coincides with an impaired structure of the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular (H-P-T) axis. The H-P-T axis is an important part of the endocrine system that regulates testicular function.