Struggling with infertility is one of the most frustrating, stressful experiences a couple can go through–especially for those eager to have a child. Infertility is a condition plighting around 15% of couples in the United States and is defined as the inability to conceive after twelve months of unprotected sex.
Whether you’ve begun seeking treatment for infertility, or are still trying on your own, we’re here to guide you. Let’s start with some facts about infertility.
What causes infertility?
A common misconception about infertility is that it’s primarily due to a problem with the female reproductive system.
In actuality, about 30% of all infertility cases are solely due to the male. Another 30% are due to the female, solely. And the last 40% is either a combination of the two or unexplained.
Here’s a deeper look into the causes of both male and female infertility:
Causes of Male Infertility:
- Abnormal sperm production or function due to genetic defects, health problems or undescended testicles.
- Problems with the delivery of the sperm due to sexual problems such as premature ejaculation, structural problems or previous injury to the reproductive organs.
- Overexposure to specific environmental factors such as cigarette smoking, alcohol, marijuana or frequent exposure to heat such as hot tubs or saunas
- Varicocele, an abnormal dilation of the veins which drains the testicle inside the scrotum. 40% of infertility in men is due to Varicoceles .
Causes of Female Infertility:
- Ovulation disorders that affect the release of eggs from the ovaries.
- Uterine or cervical abnormalities in the opening of the cervix, polyps in the uterus or the shape of the uterus.
- Fallopian tube damage or blockage.
- Endometriosis or the growth of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus.
- Primary ovarian insufficiency or early menopause.
A few additional causes that pertain to both men and women are:
- Being older in age.
- Use of tobacco and alcohol.
- Having an overweight or underweight body mass.
- Having limited or insufficient exercise.
As you can see, there are plenty of potential reasons why you and your partner are struggling to conceive.But the good news is about 80-90% of infertility issues can be treated with drug therapy, surgical procedures or an alteration of lifestyle.Still, trying to get pregnant and not succeeding at first can be an exhaustive process–even when the odds are in your favor. Don’t lose hope yet. Below are a few of the best ways for you and your partner to cope with infertility.
Coping with Infertility
Learn About The Normal Responses
The emotional impact that infertility can have on couples is often overlooked. In truth, it’s common for both the woman and the man to go through a series of emotions.
The most common emotions that couples feel when dealing with infertility are failure or inadequacy, loss, guilt, judgement, shame, anger, loss of self-esteem, etc. It’s important to be aware of emotions and to embrace them or share them with your partner or a loved one. Trying to cover up what you’re feeling will ultimately lead to even more distress.
Once you’ve acknowledged what you’re feeling, you can then begin taking steps to heal. Not wanting to go to a family gathering full of little kids, taking the time to cry and be angry or taking a break from trying to conceive are all acceptable ways of handling your emotions.
It’s also important to remember that not everyone deals with emotions in the same way. The way that you express your emotions will likely not be the same way your partner does and that’s ok. Allow your partner to heal in their own way.
Focus On Your Relationship
Trying to get pregnant is an all-consuming ordeal and not being able to do so right away can certainly put a strain on your relationship. Nearly half of couples that struggle to get pregnant report that infertility has a negative affect on their relationship.
If you and your partner are struggling to conceive, it’s time to bring the focus back onto the relationship and intimacy.
You can do this by going on dates again, bringing the spontaneity back into sex, working out together or even just taking the time to do things just the two of you. It doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary, just enough to bring some lightness and fun back into your partnership.
The majority of couples going through infertility experience a great deal of apprehension and guilt. Remember–the majority of infertility issues are not caused by just one factor. So before you place blame on yourself or your partner, remember that you and your partner are in it together.
Seek Outside Help
As mentioned before, a whopping 85-90% of infertility cases can be treated by medicine. If you and your partner are under the age of 35 and have been trying for over a year to conceive, it may be time to look into fertility treatments. There are a number of ways to reverse what probably seems like a curse on your reproductive system. Here are the steps you and your partner should take towards fertility:
Testing for Infertility
The first step to fertility is by finding out what’s keeping you from conceiving. As we know, infertility can be caused by several different factors. It’s important to pinpoint exactly what could be going wrong. For men–semen analysis, hormone testing, genetic testing, testicular biopsy, imaging and specialty testing are all ways to test the ability to conceive. Women can undergo ovulation testing, ovarian reserve testing, hormone testing or imaging to test their fertility.
Deciding on a Treatment Plan
The next step is to consider treatments. Because every case is unique, treatment plans may vary. Infertility can be treated through medications, surgery, sperm retrieval, ovulation-stimulating fertility drugs, or IVF (in vitro fertilization), depending on the situation. For women, treatments will need to be carried about by an OBGYN. But for men, treatments can be handled by a trusted urologist.
At the Urology Specialists of the Carolinas, we specialize in male infertility treatments like microscopic varicocele repair. As you might recall, a varicocele is an abnormal dilation of the veins which drains the testicle inside the scrotum and is one of the most common causes of infertility in men.
We understand the stress and frustration that comes with infertility, and we want to help. Visit our site to learn more about our procedures and treatment options for male infertility.