Doctor explains: What causes infertility?

Doctor explains: What causes infertility?

According to Dr Ailen Aluri (in photo), the causes of infertility differ greatly. Photo: Kadri Unt

There is reason to suspect infertility if the couple has not managed to conceive naturally within one year. In this case, the obstacle and whether it can be treaThere is reason to suspect infertility if the couple has not managed to conceive naturally within one year. In this case, the obstacle and whether it can be treated with medicine must be determined. Dr Ailen Aluri, Gynaecologist at Next Fertility Nordic Clinic, and Inna Ossiptšuk, Experience Counsellor, explain what causes infertility and what must be taken into consideration during fertility treatment.

Many reasons

The reasons for infertility can be very different: 30% are female-related, 30% male-related and 20% related to both parties. In the remaining 20% of cases, the reason remains unclear even today. Some studies have shown that the proportion of unexplained infertility may actually be even higher.

Selgitame välja viljatuse põhjused
The first step is to seek help from fertility specialists and undergo fertility testing. Photo: Kadri Unt

According to Dr Ailen Aluri, the causes of infertility can be both genetic and anatomical or infertility can be caused by illnesses suffered somewhere along life, such as sexually transmitted diseases. “The impact of environmental factors on fertility should certainly not be underestimated,” she says.

To find out why you have not been able to conceive, you can take fertility tests, with the help of which your doctor will assist you in finding out the possible causes.

The biggest factor in a woman’s fertility is her age, as the number and quality of her eggs begin to decline gradually after the age of 30. “The most common causes of female infertility are ovulation disorders, i.e disorders of egg maturation and release from the ovaries, fallopian tube obstruction and endometriosis,” explains Dr Aluri. To know the status of your fertility, it is recommended that you see a gynaecologist who will recommend additional tests and analyses, if necessary.

Male fertility, on the other hand, is assessed by the number, motility and shape of sperm cells. “At our clinic, men can conveniently take a sperm test, the results of which will be available in a few days at the latest,” she says. If the above mentioned values are below normal, there may be problems with fertilisation of the egg in a natural way.

Stress can also be a factor

As has been said before, in many cases, the cause of infertility remains to be determined. In addition to genetic and anatomical factors, there may be additional factors. Lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or low physical activity as well as the environment, including exposure to toxic substances at work or at home, certainly play a role in the development of infertility. Studies have shown that cosmetics and household chemicals containing toxic substances can also have a negative effect on a person’s fertility.

It is also important not to overlook the stress that long-term failed attempts to conceive a child can cause between partners. “Infertility undoubtedly causes stress, and this stress, in turn, can make it harder to become pregnant. For example, doctors have reported a number of cases in which a couple has undergone fertility treatment for several years, and after having their first child with the help of IVF, the couple’s next pregnancy will come as a big surprise to them,” she says.

Inna Ossiptšuk, Experience Counsellor at the Infertility Clinic of Next Fertility Nordic, added that most couples with infertility experience pre- or post-diagnosis psychological challenges, such as fear of not becoming a parent, denial or guilt, anger at their bodies, social pressure and many more.

The beginning of life depends on many small details. Photo: Canva

“It is important to remember that all of these emotions are perfectly normal,” she says. At the same time, it is even more important to learn to manage your negative emotions (on your own or with the help of an experience counsellor) in order to not let negative emotions affect the outcome of fertility treatment.

Treatment is a journey

The classical method of fertility treatment is IVF treatment, which is a very important and vital procedure. Undoubtedly, the couple can have very high expectations in this regard. However, it is often overlooked that this journey can be emotionally more difficult than it was initially thought to be. Each stage may not go exactly as expected.

“It must be kept in mind that the beginning of life at the cellular level depends on many small details. From how many eggs we can harvest from a woman, the quality of the man’s sperm, how well the eggs will fertilise, which embryos develop and whether the embryo attaches to the woman’s uterus,” explains Dr Aluri.

On average, ca 30% of IVF procedures are successful. IVF results vary depending on the woman’s age. “The success rate is generally higher for those under 35 years of age and lower for those over 40 years of age. In fact, the probability of becoming pregnant in a natural way in one month is ca 30% as well,” the gynaecologist points out. “The beginning of a new life is, in fact, a great miracle that we are used to taking for granted.”

Nobody is alone

However, it is very important to note that even if the first IVF procedure fails, both the treating physician and the laboratory staff will receive a great deal of important information to consider when planning the next procedure.

For example, conclusions are drawn about how a woman’s ovaries react to medications, whether further research is needed or whether another method of fertilisation might be more appropriate for this patient. “It is definitely important that the couple undergoing fertility treatment is supportive of each other and goes through the entire process together,” says Dr Aluri.

Sometimes, it is also important to seek advice from someone who has gone through a similar journey themselves. At Next Fertility Nordic Clinic, the patient can book an appointment with an experience counsellor who can share their personal experience on IVF treatment and support and assist the patient undergoing fertility treatment. No couple is on this journey alone – professionals in their field are there to help with the best advice every step of the way.