Advertisement

Infertility

Man Versus Woman

It is a myth that infertility is always a "woman's problem." About one-third of infertility cases are due to problems with the man, and one-third are due to problems with the woman. Other cases are due to either a combination of male and female factors or to unknown causes.
Male Infertility
Infertility in men is often caused by problems with making sperm or getting the sperm to reach the egg. Problems with sperm may exist from birth or develop later in life due to illness or injury. Some men produce no sperm or produce too few sperm. Lifestyle can influence the number and quality of a man's sperm. Alcohol and drugs can temporarily reduce sperm quality. Environmental toxins, including pesticides and lead, may cause infertility in some men, too.
Female Infertility
Problems with ovulation account for most cases of infertility in women. Without ovulation, eggs are not available to be fertilized. Signs of problems with ovulation include irregular menstrual periods or no periods at all. Simple lifestyle factors -- including stress, diet, or athletic training -- can affect a woman's hormonal balance. Much less often, a hormonal imbalance from a serious medical problem such as a pituitary gland tumor can cause ovulation problems.
Aging is also an important factor in female infertility. The ability of a woman's ovaries to produce eggs declines with age, especially after age 35. About one-third of couples where the woman is over 35 will have problems with fertility. By the time she reaches menopause, when her monthly periods stop for good, a woman can no longer produce eggs or become pregnant.
 
Other problems can also lead to infertility in women. If the fallopian tubes are blocked at one or both ends, the egg can't travel through the tubes into the uterus. Blocked tubes may result from pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, or surgery for an ectopic pregnancy.
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Advertisement
4 Relationship Skills for People With ADHD