Causes of infertility
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after a year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse.
Traditionally women used to be alleged to be responsible for the issue. But nowadays nearly 90 % of men, who come to Sanatorium Helios to undergo examinations do not meet the norm for sperm analysis according to the World Health Organisation. We recommend to seek expert help after 1 year of unprotected regular sex if the woman is under 35.
We advise women over 35 to meet a fertility specialist after 6 months. Regarding the fact that the question of infertility is very complex, we recommend you to come and consult your own individual case with our fertility experts.
The causes of infertility or reduced fertility are numerous, including those genetically given. Mostly they are potentiated by negative factors such as lifestyle and age. Weight (ideal BMI to conceive is between 20 and 25), smoking, alcohol, drugs, lack of exercise or excessive physical stress, and the increase in the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases are considered to be the most serious problems.
For women, the ideal age to conceive is between 23 and 32. Probability of getting pregnant at this time and under optimal conditions is about 25 % each month. The probability decreases with age and only 5 % of women conceive naturally over the age of 40. The reason behind is a higher number of cycles without ovulation and genetically defective eggs (degenerative eggs, which are not capable of fertilization).
Age does not play as essential role for men as it does for women, however, older men may have more problems with erection and ejaculation. Yet, it is alarming that over the past 50 years, sperm quality got worse by more than 100 %.
As for women, smoking has an impact on the quality of eggs and reduces levels of estrogen. The toxic by-products of smoking negatively affect cells producing hormones. This causes menstrual cycle disorders, increases the number of cycles without ovulation and reduces the quality of eggs, which then can lead to poor quality embryos. As stated above, the chances of pregnancy are significantly reduced, and abortions in the early stages of pregnancy may occur more frequently.
Men – smokers often have a higher number of sperms with low motility. Such sperm cannot fertilize an egg, and if so, it may carry genetic defects that threaten the health of pregnancies and future children.
Sperm develops for about three months. Any man, who is with their partner planning to start a family, whether naturally or through IVF, should quit smoking, gain healthy weight, limit their exposure to stress, and add physical excercises.
Other factors that may affect fertility are exhaustion and stress. Short-term stress does not cause much harm, but long-term stress may lead to immune system disorders and total fatigue.
Body weight also plays quite a crucial role concerning fertility issues. Both extremes, either obesity or very low weight, lead to hormonal imbalances, which cause irregular menstrual cycles and ovulation disorders. Also, women, who dramatically and rapidly reduce their weight, might decrease their chances of getting pregnant. Hormones develop in adipose tissues and it is also a place where the hormones are bound. As for men, low weight is not as detrimental to their fertility. But obesity decreases testosterone levels, that may lead to libido losses.