People often confuse infertility with sterility or barrenness. However, they have different meanings.
Infertility is inability to conceive after 12 months of actively trying. Active meaning at about 36-48 hours interval. That is a lot of intercourse! Sterility/barrenness means absolute inability to have a child.
Before someone is diagnosed as infertile, she must have been actively trying to conceive with the same partner for 12 months. It means couples who have long distance relationships may not be deemed infertile until there is absolute evidence that there is a problem.
In the first year of trying, about 70% of couples conceive with another 10% conceiving in the 2nd year. So it means you should not worry if you have not conceived in 12 months or more of trying.
Do note here that emphasis is on couples and not individuals. Therefore, if a couple does not have a child yet, the blame should not be on either of them. It simply means both have not been able to achieve having a child together.
From World Statistics, 30% of infertility cases is female factor related, another 30% male factor related, another 30% couple related (both have issues), and 10% unexplained.
If a couple has never been pregnant before, it is referred to as Primary Infertility. If they are attempting another pregnancy, with or without a previous child, it is referred to as secondary infertility. Both are basically caused by same reasons.
Male Factor infertility can be caused by
1. Untreated infections: this is the primary cause of infertility in Nigeria. A lot of infections do not give any sign or symptom and as such, are generally not noticed until havoc is done. Some men also are prone to treat infections halfway, as they stop taking medication once they feel better or when the signs of infection are not visible. A majority of these infections are sexually transmitted and the female partners also are infected. Those with multiple sexual partners are largely at risk of transmitting STDs to and fro their partners.
2. Lifestyle: lifestyle habits like alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse, and exposure to radiation, chemicals and excessive heat also may have their semen quality compromised.
3. Hormonal/testicular: Hormonal deficiencies contribute to male factor infertility as they affect spermatogenesis
4. Low sperm count / Sperm quality: People often assume that because a man is able to deposit semen during ejaculation automatically means he has healthy viable sperms. some even think semen and sperm are one and the same but they are not. Some men suffer low sperm count (oligospermia) or do not have sperms at all in their semen (azoospermia). Some have sperms with deficiencies such as two heads, two tails, coiled tail etc and as such. This might be due to hormonal issues of other factors like conduction failure, non-descent testes and varicocele.
5. Erectile dysfunction: inability to have and sustain an erection during intercourse.
6. Congenital issues – birth defects.
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