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6 Little Known Factors Which Cause Infertility

There are various reasons for both female & male infertility; learn about infertility causes, what tests might be needed & fertility treatments available to help with getting pregnant.

Despite the number of couples who manage to conceive without any issues, there are a number of other couples who struggle with infertility. Around one in 10 couples in the US have problems with infertility, a significant percentage.

Some of the causes of infertility are well-known by most people: it is a known fact that women find it harder to conceive as they get older and that certain health conditions can cause infertility. However, there are a number of factors which can contribute to infertility, which are less well known.

Take a look at these six factors that cause infertility, which you probably didn’t know about.

1. Untreated STDs

You probably don’t understand that one of the main reasons for infertility in both men and women is untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Specifically, chlamydia and gonorrhoea are leading causes of infertility, which can affect both genders. These diseases often go unnoticed because they can be asymptomatic, particularly for men with chlamydia, or may manifest only in minor symptoms which are ignored. However, even when symptoms do not present, these conditions can cause infertility when untreated.

It is important to regularly get tested for STDs if you are in a risk group. If you suspect you may have an STD, see your doctor for a test, particularly if you want to try for a baby, but in all cases, it is a good idea to get tested. If you find you have chlamydia or gonorrhoea, the treatment is relatively straightforward: your doctor will simply prescribe a course of (specific) antibiotics in most cases.

2. Hormone Imbalance

Hormone imbalances play a significant role in infertility. In fact, in most cases, hormone issues will be either a contributing factor or the main reason for infertility. Hormones are vital because they control essentially every process in our bodies, and reproductive processes are no exception. In fact, reproductive processes are extremely complicated, and therefore, a number of hormones are involved. This means that an imbalance in any of these hormones could adversely impact fertility.

If you suspect that you are suffering from a hormone imbalance, or if you are struggling with infertility and are not sure why, it could be worth having your hormone levels tested. You can arrange to perform a simple hormone test at home through a service. This usually involves a saliva test which you can do yourself, and then you send off to the lab for results. If the results show a hormone imbalance, take these results to your doctor and discuss recommended courses of treatment.

3. Smoking

If you smoke cigarettes, you probably already know that it is having devastating effects on your general health. But did you know it could also be making you infertile? In men, smoking has been shown to decrease sperm mobility by up to 13%, which can hinder chances of conceiving. Smoking has also been shown to impact on hormone levels, which we already know can adversely affect fertility, as well as damaging sperm in ways that can hinder fertilization, embryo implantation, and embryo development.

Smoking cigarettes can also affect female fertility. Not only does smoking during pregnancy leads to abnormal fetal development (as has been well-publicized), but it can stop you from getting pregnant in the first place. Smoking can contribute to problems conceiving in a number of ways, including, through causing damage to the fallopian tubes, changes to the cervix, damaging egg development, as well as increasing the risk of miscarriage.

4. Damage to Sperm DNA

In 2012, new research was released which showed a new cause of infertility which could be responsible for unexplained infertility in up to 80% of couples. The study showed that damage to DNA in sperm can cause infertility if found in high enough concentrations.

Damage to less than 15% is considered normal and is unlikely to have any effects. However, once that damage covers 25% or more, this can adversely affect male fertility. The findings are important because they mean that fertility treatments can be specifically tailored to couples suffering from this condition.

5. Celiac Disease

Celiac is a relatively well-known condition which involves an auto-immune reaction to gluten. What most people don’t know, however, is that celiac may also be related to the incidence of infertility. This is usually an issue when the disease is undiagnosed and untreated: studies have found that undiagnosed celiac disease may cause up to 4% of unexplained infertility cases. The reason for this is still not entirely clear, but may be linked to intestinal damage or iron deficiency anemia, both symptoms of celiac disease.

6. Environmental Toxins

Believe it or not, but the chemicals in our environment may also be a cause of infertility. There is evidence that environmental toxins could cause infertility in both men and women. In men, these toxins are believed to impact on semen quality, making it more difficult to conceive. In women, toxins in the environment most likely impact on a range of factors influencing fertility. As part of our modern lifestyles, we are exposed to toxins through processed foods, contaminated water, as well as chemicals found in hair and beauty products. Although the evidence is still not clear on the relationship between environmental toxins and infertility if fertility is a concern it may be worthwhile avoiding these toxins as much as possible.