The failure to conceive after one or more years of regular unprotected sexual intercourse is interpreted as Infertility. The infertility may be due to fertility problems with one or the other partner or in about a third of the cases both partners.
Female infertility is usually due to the failure in production of eggs (anovulation), but can also be due to damaged fallopian tubes or 'hostile' mucous in the cervix, preventing fertilization by the sperm.
Anovulation can be treated with medications designed to regulate the hormonal changes during the ovulation process. A blood test at around day 22 of the female cycle can determine whether or not ovulation has occurred. Damaged fallopian tubes can be identified by undergoing hysterosalpingography, where a dye is injected into the cervix allowing the fallopian tubes to be seen with an x-ray.
Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes can, in some cases, be repaired by tubal surgery. Male infertility can be due to impotence, low sperm count (less than 20 million per cubic/cm of semen) or the production of non-viable sperm.
Abnormal sperm and low sperm counts can easily be detected by a simple test on a sample of the male's semen.
Alcohol, smoking, tight clothing and hot baths can all reduce sperm counts, therefore avoiding these can increase fertility.
If initial treatment fails to increase fertility, further treatment options can be explored - Intrauterine injection (IUI) where the male's sperm is collected under a microscope and injected directly into the uterus.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) involves stimulating ovulation in the female and then removing the eggs to be fertilized outside of the body, the fertilized egg/s or embryos are then returned to the female's womb using a cannula.
Gamete intra fallopian transfer (GIFT), involves removing eggs a from the females ovaries and placing them directly into the fallopian tubes with a sample of the male's sperm.
Where sperm counts are very low, sperm can be taken directly from the testicle under general anesthetic to be used in IUI, IVF or GIFT.
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