Hundreds of thousands of married couples feel driven to learn why they seem unable to start or enlarge a family. Hundreds of thousands of married couples ponder on the reason for infertility problems, the unwanted “guest” in their bedroom.
When a couple already has one or two children, the most likely reason for infertility problems is age. Statistics show that the percent of complete pregnancies declines as a population ages. An older woman must accept an increased likelihood that her egg might not survive the long trip down her fallopian tube to her uterus.
Still, the reason for infertility problems should never be automatically attributed to a female partner. For about 40% of couples with infertility problems the cause lies in a failure of the woman’s reproductive physiology. In another 40% of such couples a problem with the man’s physiology has caused the couple’s infertility problems.
Sometimes a couple’s infertility problems derive from a combination of male and female problems. At other times the reason for infertility problems remains a mystery to the most knowledgeable health professionals. A medical history does not always reveal sufficient evidence to support a suspected case of male or female infertility.
One medical history suggests that a later marriage can, in some cases, decrease chances that a couple might need to hear about the suspected reason for infertility problems. One young woman with menstrual problems delayed marriage until a time when those problems had become a quickly-forgotten concern. Having normal periods at the time of her marriage, that woman faced no infertility problems.
Had that woman chosen to become a younger bride, she and her husband might have been forced to ponder about the reason for infertility problems. The medical history of that woman suggested an earlier failure to produce gonadotropin releasing factor. When the woman’s hypothalamus failed to produce that factor, her pituitary gland failed to produce an adequate amount of lutenizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
The low amount of FSH and LH in the woman’s bloodstream prevented production of estrogen. As a result, that woman went a number of years without a period. Neurosurgery eventually corrected the problem. That woman was later able to bear two children.
The above story offers specific details about one possible reason for infertility problems. Other couples with infertility problems will no doubt discover yet another possible cause for the failure of a couple to have children.
A woman might, for example, have a blocked fallopian tube. That would prevent an egg from reaching the uterus. A woman might have endometriosis. Cells lining the endometrium of such a woman would demonstrate a strange behavior; they would, at times, migrate to various locations within her pelvic cavity.
In order to eliminate infertility problems caused by the male partner, fertility experts usually examine the man’s sperm. They make sure he is able to produce a sufficient number of sperm. They also look for misshapen sperm, or sperm that show signs of weighing either too much or too little.
by Sue Chehrenegar
Sue has an MS in Biomedical research along with 30 years of experience in her field of study.