Infertility in Women
In Indian society, the effects of infertility on a woman can be devastating. Women can be judged for how easily they conceive and how many children they can produce with their husband. Secondary infertility can be hard on women too as they are unable to conceive after the first pregnancy. What adds to the anguish that women experience is that this sensitive issue is often kept private. But increasing awareness and modern medicine have made tremendous strides in the overall prognosis of women that suffered in silence.
Causes of infertility in Women
Female infertility can be due to many reasons. Below are some the factors which affect fertility in women.
Some women do not have the synchronized hormonal changes necessary for ovulation along with the thickening of the endometrium. Detecting hormone levels through blood tests and basal body temperature charts are reliable methods that can give you and your physician insight into where you stand.
2.Damaged fallopian tubes
Endometriosis, pelvic infections or surgeries and even physical trauma to the reproductive system can lead to scarring which renders the passage of the mature egg through the fallopian tube challenging. This leads to an inability of the egg and sperm coming in contact with each other for fertilization to take place.
Some women’s cervical canals are not conducive to the sperm passing through them for reasons that range from acidity of the cervical environment to scarring of the tissue. The cervical mucus itself can be abnormal and not be sperm- friendly or the cervix can be so damaged from previous infections that it provides as poor environment for the sperm to use as a conduit to the fallopian tubes.
A woman’s age can be a large role in her fertility. This reduction in fertility is mostly after age 40 when women are left with fewer eggs whose quality continues to diminish with each passing month. In fact, for every year after the age of 30, a woman’s fertility decreases by as much as 4%.
Fertility treatment in women
If your infertility results from problems with ovulation, your physician may recommend medication, namely clomiphene that will stimulate your ovaries to release eggs. This is a safe and effective method to promote ovulation without many side effects.
For some women, this does not work. They are given hormone shots that begin at the start of the menstrual cycle, all the way until ovulation has occurred. This greatly increases your chance of multiple pregnancies along with the risk of hyperstimulation of the ovaries which carries serious side effects.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
If the cause for your fertility is unknown, your doctor may recommend intra-uterine insemination, where the sperm is delivered directly into the uterus leaving nothing to chance. Here, sperm collected from the man is delivered via a syringe to the uterus eliminating issues of sperm motility and blockages in the woman’s reproductive canal.
In women that have pelvic diseases, laparoscopy is used to reconstruct the affected organ by removing scar tissue, ovarian cysts and polyps that impede the passage of the egg from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. So any blockages that may have been an issue can be eliminated, thereby clearing the path for the egg.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
If these treatments still do not result in a pregnancy, your next option is in vitro fertilization. This is the most advanced form of assisted reproductive technology but still comes with no guarantees of a pregnancy. Here the man’s sperm and woman’s eggs are mixed in a laboratory setting and allowed to fertilize. Your doctor will then take one or more of your embryos and place them in your uterus, so that at least one may implant and continue to grow.
Of late, India has been seeing the use of surrogate mothers, whose uterus plays the role of a host for the embryos of an infertile couple. The hope is that implantation can take place and the embryo will continue to grow and develop into a healthy baby in the surrogate.
If you are facing infertility yourself, then discussing it with your doctor sooner rather than later can save you a lot of angst during this difficult time. With new methodologies being developed to help infertile couples every day, who knows, you may get really lucky and end up with more than you bargained for!