Medical issues that affect fertility

Medical treatment today has become a very large business. This is due to the growing number of health problems that people are being afflicted with. Over the last few decades, we have seen a great increase in health-related problems. We can clearly see a rise in heart problem and other health issues related to the heart. Cancer has become rampant, and there is hardly a family left that has not felt the wrath of this horrendous disease. Nerve and brain degeneration diseases like Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s and many others are affecting a large number of the elderly population. diabetes, which was once a hereditary disease is now a lifestyle disease.

Fertility is another area that has seen a steady decline. Issues like hormonal imbalance are now quite common, especially among the youth.

It wouldn’t be out of place to say that many of these problems are caused due to the way we live our lives on a day to day basis. The 24 hours that we have in the day is not enough to accomplish all that we have to do. There is constant pressure to achieve more in less time. We have all kinds of technological wonder to make our lives easier or perform mundane tasks, and this enables us to utilise our time for more important matters. At the end of the day, people end up stressed and to top it all you even wake up stressed just with the thought of all you need to accomplish in the number of waking hours you have. To try and get more done, you work longer hours and sleep later.

Sleep is a time for the body to recuperate from the activities of the day and heal itself. We push our sleep time to the minimal and try and have as many waking hours in the day as possible. The underlying belief is that the more time we have, the more we can accomplish. Just how true this is, is a matter yet to be proved. The lack of proper sleep, which includes going to bed very late in the night as well as not getting a sufficient number of hours of sleep, plays a major role in causing health-related illnesses.

Living the fast-paced life and making changes in our lifestyle to accommodate everything, has culminated in a number of different health problems. When it comes to fertility, the most unfortunate thing is that a number of different ailments can deter a couple from being able to conceive. There are so many diseases and medical conditions that are making people infertile that it is alarming. Some of these diseases cause permanent infertility, and some of them can be reversed.

MEDICAL CONDITIONS THAT AFFECT FERTILITY

There are a number of medical conditions that are quite common today that can interfere with your being able to get pregnant. Men and women are susceptible to infertility through illnesses. Some of the more common medical conditions that affect fertility are:

Diabetes: There are two types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2. Both these types of diabetes are characterised by high levels of sugar in the blood and a lack of insulin production by the body. Diabetes affects the quality of the sperm produced by a man. A diabetic male produces a large percentage of damaged and abnormally shaped sperm. These sperm are not able to naturally penetrate an egg. The inability to penetrate an egg prevents the fertilisation and hence leads to infertility. Women who have diabetes suffer from delayed periods or no menstrual cycle, causing an ovulation disorder. Diabetes causes a woman to gain excess weight and very often leads to polycystic ovaries. Ovulation is necessary for pregnancy, and a problem with ovulation affects a woman’s ability to conceive. Ovulation refers to the process of releasing a mature egg into the fallopian tube. This egg then waits to be fertilised by the sperm for conception to take place. A woman who does not ovulate cannot get pregnant.

Pituitary gland disease: The pituitary gland is an endocrine gland which controls a number of other glands that are responsible for releasing hormones. The pituitary gland gets its instructions from the hypothalamus and signals other glands when particular fertility hormones need to be released in the body. This is similar for both males and females. In a male, the pituitary gland signals the release of the Luteinizing hormone (LH) which in turn enables the testes to produce testosterone which is required for the production of sperm.A problem with the pituitary gland can impair the release of the LH, thus affecting the production of sperm.
In the female reproductive system, the pituitary gland initiates the release of the hormones required for the stimulation of the ovaries for the follicles to mature into eggs. The pituitary gland is responsible for the release of the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and the LH. Failure of the pituitary gland to release these hormones affects ovulation and prevents a woman from being able to conceive. When the pituitary gland is affected by a disease or a tumour, it hinders the release of the necessary hormones in the required quantities, and this impedes fertility in men and women.

Hypothalamic disorder: The hypothalamus plays an important role when it comes to hormones in both men and women. The hypothalamus controls the production of hormones by the pituitary gland. When there is a problem with the hypothalamus, the pituitary does not receive correct information regarding the release of the various required hormones. Following this, the necessary hormones are not released when they are needed. In a male, the production of sperm is affected by a malfunction of the hypothalamus, and in the female, the follicles do not mature into eggs because of which ovulation may not take place as scheduled. This, in turn, affects fertility. To deal with this problem, hormone injections are administered to maintain the required hormonal balance and enable fertility.

Multiple sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis is a condition that affects the nerve cells of the spine and the brain. These nerve cells are responsible for sending signals to the rest of the body. Women who have multiple sclerosis can conceive naturally. However, they may face some challenges during their pregnancy and delivery. People with multiple sclerosis may find that they have a problem with sexual responses such as arousal and orgasm. Many men with multiple sclerosis have an issue with erection and ejaculation. Men who are not able to ejaculate could use the help of fertility treatment to have children. The sperm are retrieved directly from the testes and inseminated into the female partner.

Chlamydia: Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are more rampant now than it was earlier. Chlamydia is an STD which is quite common among many young people and can affect fertility in many ways. Chlamydia in women can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which damages the fallopian tubes and hampers fertility. During pregnancy, the sperm meets the eggs and fertilises it in the fallopian tube. A damaged fallopian tube will hinder the movement of the egg and the sperm and may prevent conception. Problems with the fallopian tube can also lead to an ectopic pregnancy which takes place in the fallopian tubes due to the embryo not being able to travel to the uterus. In men, Chlamydia affects the quality of the sperm and including its motility, which is the sperm ability to move. Sperm that have poor motility are not able to locate the female egg for fertilisation. Hence men with poor sperm motility are considered infertile. A severe case of Chlamydia can lead to the blockage of the tubes that carry the sperm from the epididymis to the ejaculatory duct — thus preventing the semen from containing any sperm. The only solution, in this case, is sperm extraction directly from the testes for fertility treatment.

Prostatitis: This is a condition in which the prostate gland gets inflamed. It is usually caused due to a urinary tract infection. Prostatitis can be treated with medication and is curable. However, if Prostatitis is not treated, it can result in permanent male infertility. A male who has Prostatitis will suffer from pain during ejaculation. If this symptom is found, then medical attention should be given to prevent permanent fertility damage. Prostatitis is more prevalent in older men rather than men under the age of 35.

Cushing’s syndrome: A person who has an abnormally increased level of the cortisol hormone in their body it is known as Cushing’s syndrome. The cortisol hormone is produced by the adrenalin glands and performs various functions in the body such as regulates blood pressure, monitor sugar levels, helps the body to respond to stress and keeps the immune system active. An excess of cortisol in the body leads to a number of health conditions, including a reduced libido. A lack of sex drive leads to reduced fertility and can affect a couple’s ability to get pregnant. Quality of sperm vitality reduces with decreased libido.

Hypogonadism: This is a condition which is characterised by a reduction in the production of the gonadotropin hormone. This leads to lower testosterone levels. A decrease in testosterone hampers the production of sperm, which could result in poor sperm production as well as poor quality sperm. Lowered levels of testosterone can also lead to erectile dysfunction, which prevents a man from being able to have sex and impregnate his female partner.Hypogonadism rarely causes infertility in women.

Mumps: This is a disease that affects children and usually does not have any long term effects. In a few cases, mumps can lead to orchitis. Some males may find a slight shrinkage in the size of the testicles. A very small percentage of males suffer from a reduced sperm count. A low sperm count is a sign of male infertility. Male suffering from low sperm count will have to undergo fertility treatment to start a family.

Cancer: Cancer itself may not cause infertility unless it has affected the reproductive organs. But treatment for cancer, namely chemotherapy and radiation have severe effects on the quality of the female ovarian reserve. Women are born with their supply of eggs, and if these are damaged, there is no recourse. Cancer treatment also affects the quality of the sperm being produced by the male. If cancer affects the female uterus or the ovaries means these organs have to be removed to curtail cancer from spreading to surrounding organs. This brings the onset of early menopause and permanent infertility for women. In males, cancer of the testes results in permanent male infertility. People who have suffered from cancer need to use a donor or opt for surrogacy.

Thyroid disease: Malfunction of the thyroid gland can lead to infertility in women. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not release a sufficient quantity of the hormones that are required by the body. Very often, this lack of hormones interferes with the normal process of ovulation. The egg does not mature and releases from the ovary due to a deficiency of the required hormones that makes this process happen. Women with thyroid also suffer from decreased libido and are not very inclined towards sex. Medication can control the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and regulation of the required hormones in the body.

Even conditions such as high blood pressure, depression, stress and many others can prevent pregnancy by affecting fertility in a number of different ways. A number of different infections caused by sexually transmitted diseases can also affect fertility. Many couples do not pay much heed to infections and sexually transmitted diseases, but these should be treated immediately to prevent the likelihood of infertility.

Sharda and Kapil were not able to get pregnant. They had been trying for 3 years. Sharda had gained some weight during the last 5 years but did not have a medical check-up. She felt it could be due to age or marriage. The common belief in India is that people put on weight after they get married. The inability to get pregnant encouraged them to visit a doctor. It was diagnosed that Sharda was suffering from a thyroid problem. Hypothyroidism hinders ovulation and pregnancy. She was prescribed medication to regulate the functioning of her thyroid glands. Kapil had contacted chlamydia a few years before marriage. Though he had undergone treatment prior to getting married, it had affected his fertility. He was diagnosed with azoospermia, which is a condition where there is no sperm in the ejaculate. The doctor diagnosed that there was probably a blockage in one of the tubes that transport the sperm to the ejaculatory duct.

At Medicover Fertility Clinic, the Fertility Consultant advised them to have IVF treatment. Kapil would have to undergo a sperm retrieval procedure where they would extract the sperm in his epididymis using a hollow needle. The couple were scheduled to have the egg extraction and the sperm retrieval on the same day. While Sharda’s procedure was over in half an hour, Kapil’s procedure took over 3 hours. Fortunately for the couple, they had plenty of eggs and sperm for the lab fertilisation procedure. The doctors were worried that Sharda’s uterus may not be very receptive due to the hypothyroidism and warned the couple not to be too disappointed if the IVF procedure did not succeed. With the help of fertility medication, Sharda got pregnant on the second IVF attempt.

TESTIMONY

Sharda says, “I was hoping and praying that the IVF would be successful. When I had the spotting, my mother-in-law said that I was pregnant for sure. She said it was implantation bleeding, and there was no doubt about my pregnancy in her mind. It was so difficult to wait for the next doctor’s appointment to get the final confirmation that I was pregnant. I was trying everything to stay busy and not think about my pregnancy during those days. But it was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. Finally, when the doctor confirmed the pregnancy, we were so overjoyed. I am just so happy that we went to Medicover and now I am pregnant.”

ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNIQUE

There are a number of different fertility treatments that are available under the assisted reproductive technique. The adverse effects of other medical problems on fertility can be overcome with the help of treatments like IUI and IVF. Assisted fertility treatment is decided after identifying the area that has been affected and is causing infertility.

The In vitro fertilisation technique is now quite commonly used around the world by couples who are not able to conceive due to numerous reasons. With the help of IVF treatment, many couples who are facing fertility challenges due to other health issues can conceive easily and have a normal family life.

FACILITIES AT MEDICOVER FERTILITY CLINIC

Medicover offers some of the best facilities for fertility treatment in India. They have world-class medical centres which are totally equipped with international standard infrastructure. Medicover is one of the leading fertility clinic chains in India. It has helped over 20 lac infertile patients to have a baby and overcome their fertility challenges.

Medicover aims at providing each patient with individualised patient care according to their need and requirement. Every couple’s fertility condition varies, and their response to the medication is different. Medicover has a team of in-house doctors who are highly qualified and very experienced. All the staff at Medicover are well trained and equipped to handle any kind of emergency situation should the need arise.

Medicover has a highly equipped lab with the latest technology infrastructure. This enables the embryologist to keep the eggs, sperm and embryos in the perfect conditions. Medicover uses advanced technology fertility treatments to help patients with difficult cases to conceive.

SOME FAQ’S

Q: I have diabetes will this prevent me from fathering children?
A: If your wife is not able to conceive naturally within a year of trying with regular sex 2-3 times a week, then seek fertility treatment. With ICSI treatment, you can have children even with poor sperm quality caused due to severe diabetes.

Q: I had mumps when I was young, does that mean I am infertile?
A: Very few males who have had mumps suffer from fertility problems. Mumps sometimes leads to reduced sperm production. Have a semen analysis test to check if your sperm count is reduced.

Q: I have had thyroid problem for the last 10 years, can I get pregnant?
A: You may find it difficult to conceive. If you are not able to get pregnant within a year of trying, it is better to visit a fertility consultant and get fertility treatment.

Q: I am undergoing treatment for PID, will it affect my fertility?
A: This depends on the extent of the damage caused by the infection. If your fallopian tubes have been damaged, you may have fertility problems.