With that in mind, let's quickly go over what "infertility" means for both men and women.
How common is infertility for men and for women?
- Even though women most often seek infertility procedures, it's estimated that women and men deal with infertility in almost equal numbers. It's estimated that around one-third of infertility cases are attributed to the female partner and one-third result from infertility in the male partner; the remaining one-third of cases are unclear or are attributed to fertility problems in both partners.
What causes infertility in women?
- Infertility in the female body is typically related to a problem with ovulation. When ovulation doesn't occur, the body does not make any eggs available to be fertilized. It's common for ovulation to fluctuate depending on environmental factors, and if a woman's body "decides" that she's too unhealthy that month to sustain a pregnancy, ovulation might not occur. This could be the result of poor nutrition, a high amount of stress, or even increased physical activity.
- Ovulation problems are also often caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is a hormonal imbalance that inhibits the body from releasing any eggs. If a woman is having trouble conceiving for months on end, PCOS could be the reason why.
- Other less common causes of infertility in women include complications from pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, or surgery following an ectopic pregnancy. Uterine fibroids have have linked to fertility problems as well.
What causes infertility in men?
- Many infertility cases with men are a result of something called varicocele, which is condition where the veins on the man's testicle(s) are enlarged and produce extra heat; this heat can decrease the shape and the number of sperm.
- Men can also face infertility simply because their bodies do no produce a high number of sperm; it's even possible for a male body to produce no sperm at all.
- Men can develop infertility issues due to an illness or injury as well, especially if the condition specifically affected his reproductive system.
For both men and women, there are certain factors which can increase the risk of infertility; these often include heavy substance abuse, smoking, environmental toxins, and age. Women typically experience the sharpest decrease in fertility as they age and it's often noticeable as early as age 30. Even a healthy young couple, with both partners around the age of 30, only has a 20-25% of conceiving during a single month.
It's important to know that regardless of which partner is experiencing an infertility problem, fertility clinics provide a variety of infertility procedures and drug treatment plans to address the issue in either partner -- or even in both partners.