Unsuccessful attempts at conceiving can be disheartening and even lead to anxiety and depression. Dr. John Macey understands the frustrations that can come with the failure to conceive. Dr. Macey treats many cases of infertility at his practice in Nashville, Tennessee. Here, Dr. Macey explains the six most common causes of infertility.
1. Blocked fallopian tubes
Your fallopian tubes are two thin tubes — one either side of your uterus — that help mature eggs journey from your ovaries to your uterus where they can meet the sperm for fertilization. Sometimes, an obstruction can block one or both of the tubes and prevent the eggs from traveling to the uterus.
Blocked fallopian tubes can be caused by a current or previous infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, or abdominal issues, such as a ruptured appendix.
2. Hormone imbalances
Your menstrual cycle is controlled by a delicate balance of hormones that fluctuates naturally over the length of your cycle. Any change to this balance, no matter how slight, can cause your menstrual cycle to go awry and cause irregular periods and infertility.
Changes to your hormones can be caused by illness, stress, weight loss or gain, certain medications, and natural changes as you age. Finding and addressing the cause, along with hormonal treatment when needed, can return your menstrual cycle to its natural balance and improve your chances of conceiving.
3. Insufficient sperm production
Sometimes it isn’t the female reproductive system that prevents conception. It can be an issue with sperm production. A low sperm count — less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen — decreases the odds of a mature egg being fertilized in the uterus. A low sperm count can be caused by a number of reasons, including:
- Certain medications
- Ejaculation problems
- Hormonal imbalances
- Previous surgery
- Varicocele, which is a swelling in the veins that drain the testicles
It’s always best to get checked out and have sperm levels tested if conception is proving difficult.
Certain medications can have an impact on both male and female fertility. As the chemicals from certain drugs enter your bloodstream, common side effects can include hormonal imbalances, endometrial tissue changes, and a decrease in sperm production.
Antidepressants and antipsychotic medications are particularly well-known to interfere with hormone regulation, as are steroids, thyroid medications, and over-the-counter painkillers.
Obesity is one of the biggest causes of infertility, because it can cause multiple problems with your menstrual cycle and ability to conceive. When your body mass index is 30 or above, the excess weight can trigger changes to your hormones and cause your periods to become irregular.
Obesity can also lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to anovulation. Anovulation is a condition in which your body doesn’t produce eggs properly each cycle. Men don’t escape the issue of obesity either, because it can lead to a drop in testosterone, which in turn can lead to a decrease in sperm production.
6. Uterine fibroids
Fibroids are benign growths on the walls of your uterus. It’s unclear how they develop, but it’s known that they use the hormones estrogen and progesterone to grow, and they’re more likely to occur when there’s a hormonal imbalance.
Fibroids can prevent the embryo from attaching to the lining of your uterus, thus preventing conception. Fibroids can also cause your fallopian tubes to be blocked, thus preventing your eggs from reaching your uterus for fertilization. Fibroids can be surgically removed to increase your chances of conception.
If you’ve been struggling to conceive a child, and you want to investigate the causes and any options available to help you get pregnant, book an appointment with Dr. John Macey online or over the phone today.