When a married couple fails to have a baby, the woman should not rush to the Lake of Pregnant Maiden in Langkawi and drink its waters. It’s only hearsay that a women will conceive after drinking water from the lake. The cause can lie either with the man or woman.
Infertility in men
Sometimes a man cannot father a child; such a condition is labeled infertility. There are four common cause of male infertility:
(a)Low sperm count
The sperm is the reproductive cell that fertilizes the egg in the woman’s womb so that pregnancy can occur. The average sperm count is 20 to 100 million sperm in each millitre of sperm. However, when the figure drops to 12 million, the chances of fertilizing an egg are slim. Low sperm count can be temporary or permanent. Stress, high fever, use of sauna, radiation treatments and drug abuse can lower sperm count temporarily. Partial obstruction anywhere in the long passages through which sperm pass can also reduce sperm counts.
(b)Poor sperm motility
A sperm must be a good swimmer! The term “motility” refers to the sperm’s ability to move and swim. Sluggish sperm is unable to complete the long journey through the acidic conditions of the vagina. If 60% or more of sperm have normal motility, the sperm is of average in quality. If less than 40% of sperm are able to move in a straight line, the condition is considered abnormal. Cause of poor motility can be genetic; deficiency in zinc and selenium; hormonal imbalance and even STD.
(c) Abnormal sperm morphology
Morphology refers to the size and shape of the sperm. A normal-shaped sperm has an oval head and a long tail. Good quality semen should contain 60% normal sperm morphology.
(d) Retrograde Ejaculation
A man who undergone prostate or bladder surgery often has difficulty ejaculating sperm out of the urethra. This condition is referred to as retrograde ejaculation. It occurs because the muscles of the bladder wall no longer function well during orgasm. Other causes include spinal cord injury and certain medications such as tranquilizers.
Fertility problems in women
Fertility problems in women are more complicated as compared to those in men as tracing the cause is more difficult. Among the possible culprits are:
An ovulation problem is arguably the main reason why some women fail to conceive.
Ovulation refers to the release of mature eggs by the ovary into the fallopian tubes. The process depends on a complex balance of hormones. Disruptions to the process can occur when ovaries are scarred due to surgeries, malfunction of the hypothalamus (a certain part of he brain) and pituitary gland and follicle problems. Symptoms of ovulation problems are absent or infrequent periods and abnormally light or heavy bleeding. Fertility drugs and in vitro fertilization are possible solutions.
Endometriosis refers to a condition when there is excessive growth of the lining of the uterus called the endometrium. Some women show no symptoms, while others suffer pain during menstrual periods or sexual intercourse, and general pelvic pain. The most accurate diagnosis is by laparoscopy, a procedure that allows the doctor to view the uterus, fallopian tubes and pelvic cavity.
(c)Improper functioning of fallopian tubes
Many diseases can cause mild adhesion to total blockage of the fallopian tubes. STD and bacterial infection can cause the tubes to become inflamed, resulting in scarring. Appendicitis and colitis (inflammation of the lining of the colon) can also inflame the abdominal cavity and affect the fallopian tubes.
Women who use illicit drugs, drink excessive alcohol, are obese or are significantly underweight reduce their chances of conceiving for unknown reasons.
Exposure to toxins and radiation at work can also affect a woman’s fertility level. Four toxins have been identified that have a negative impact on fertility. They are lead, X-rays, chemotherapy, and chemicals such as ethylene oxide and dibromochloropropame (DBCP), both of which are used in the manufacture of certain pesticides.