Fertility And Infertility
Condition Necessary For fertility
Sufficient normal, healthy sperm need to be produced by the man.
The mucus in the woman’s vagina and protecting the cervix needs to be thin enough to allow
passage of sperm. During much of the cycle it is too thick for sperm to penetrate. Around
ovulation the mucus should become more profuse and watery so that the sperm are able to enter
the uterus via the cervix.
A fully developed, healthy egg needs to be produced by the woman and released from the
ovaries into the fallopian tube, where it should move down to meet the sperm. Once they meet
the sperm needs to be able to penetrate the surface of the egg to fertilize it.
Once they have fused, they need to be propelled down the fallopian tube into the uterus.
The lining of the uterus should build up sufficiently under the influence of estrogen and
progesterone for the fertilized egg to implant and start growing. A high percentage of eggs do
not implant properly, as the womb lining often does not develop adequately.
There are several factors which can affect these vital conditions and therefore fertility.
They are different in men and women, so if you are trying to conceive you need to be aware of
Factors Affecting Fertility
A women’s fertility is governed by a number of factors, some perfectly natural, such as age,
and others over which we have some control.
a. A woman’s fertility drops as she gets older, and significantly so over the age of 35.
b. Mucus produced by the cervix may be too thick or profuse for the sperm to penetrate. The mucus may contain antibodies to the sperm, which kill them. Vaginal infections can make the mucus “hostile” to sperm. The pH of the vagina may be too acid for the sperm to survive. Artificial lubricants, jelly or cream may damage sperm.
c. One or both of the fallopian tubes may be blocked because of such aliments as pelvic inflammatory disease, scaring from previous surgery or abortion, endometriosis, or sexually transmitted disease.
d. There may be damage to the uterus caused by infections or fibroids, preventing successful implantation. One or both ovaries could be affected by ovarian cysts or endometriosis, and fail to produce the balance of the hormones needed for ripening the egg follicle and for developing the womb lining. A damaged ovary may not release its ripe egg successfully into the fallopian tubes.
e. Hormone imbalances caused by a wide range of factors such as illness, stress, nutritional deficiencies or loss of weight, may affect the ovaries, uterine lining and cervical mucus. They may inhibit ovulation.
f. The contraceptive pill affects the natural hormone balance, and the menstrual cycle may be erratic for several months after ceasing to take the pill. The use of IUDs can contribute to infection and inflammation in the uterus or fallopian tubes where resultant scar tissue can cause blockage.
g. Smoking can inhibit normal function of the reproductive system by reducing the blood flow to the pelvis and slowing the action of the finger-like projections, called cilia, in the fallopian tube which propel the egg towards the uterus.
h. Damage to the cervix from infection, erosion, polyps, abortions or surgery to remove pre-cancerous cells can upset the mucus balance and inhibit the sperm’s entry into the uterus.
i. There may be retroversion of the uterus or in some cases a congenital defect causing infertility.
j. Being overweight or underweight can affect the hormone balance and so interfere with ovulation.
k. Caffeine, taken regularly, has been shown to reduce fertility by about four times.
l. Low thyroid function can affect fertility by upsetting hormone balance. Other endocrine problems, upsetting the function of either the pituitary or adrenal glands which help to regulate the menstrual cycle, can cause failure to ovulate.
m. Certain nutrients including vitamins A, B6, C, B2, E, B12, iron, zinc, folic acid, magnesium and essential fatty acids are vital to fertility. Deficiency in such nutrients can cause infertility.
n. Stress not only upset the hormone balance but also causes contraction of the fallopian tubes, inhibiting the egg’s passage and decreasing blood supply to the pelvis. It can inhibit proper development of the womb lining and affect sex by causing spasm in the vagina.