Dr Hilary Jones' Healthcare Guide - Essex, Kent & Sussex - (Page 65)
FERTILITY – SEXUAL REPRODUCTION
THE SEED OF life
Making babies isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Figures show many couples – roughly one in seven – experience difﬁculty when trying to conceive
PHOTOGRAPHS: Getty Images
roblems conceiving can be very distressing for you and your partner. In 26% of cases, infertility is unexplained. In 32% of cases, it’s due to problems in the male partner, 25% to problems in the female, and 17% to a combination of both partners.
It’s a girl thing
ANOVULATION A condition in which the ovary does not release an egg each month, anovulation is a prime factor in infertility. Irregular or short cycles and erratic or absent periods are a big indicator that anovulation may be the problem. This can be the result of hormone imbalances, diet, stress or excessive exercise. BLOCKED FALLOPIAN TUBE A blockage in one or both of the tubes can prevent sperm from reaching the egg for fertilisation. HORMONAL IMBALANCES Any sort of hormonal imbalance can affect fertility. Most
often, it will cause anovulation, but it can also affect the lining of the uterus (endometrium), which can stop a fertilised egg from implanting. POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME (PCOS) Women with PCOS have higherthan-average levels of testosterone, oestrogen and luteinising hormone, which controls the menstrual cycle. These raised levels cause irregular periods and ovulation often stops. AGEING Every female is born with all the eggs she’ll ever have. At puberty she has about 400,000. As eggs age, they fertilise less easily. Fertility starts to decline from the age of 30.
The cause of a low sperm count can often be unclear
IMPAIRED SHAPE AND MOTILITY OF SPERM In order to move rapidly and accurately towards the egg, sperm must be properly shaped. If their structure is abnormal or the movement (motility) is impaired, they may fail to reach or penetrate the egg. LOW SPERM COUNT A normal sperm concentration is 20 million sperm per millilitre of semen. Ten million or fewer in every millilitre of semen indicates low sperm count. VARICOCELE This is an enlarged or varicose vein in the scrotum that may prevent cooling of the testicle, reducing sperm count. AGEING Male fertility is also affected by age, as sperm become increasingly sluggish from the late 30s onwards.
It’s a guy thing
WEIGHT Being obese or overweight reduces both male and female fertility. In women, being overweight can affect ovulation. Being underweight can also have a negative impact on fertility, particularly for women, who will not ovulate if they’re severely underweight. STIS There are several common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can cause infertility. For example, chlamydia may damage the fallopian tubes in women, and cause swelling and tenderness of the scrotum in men. SMOKING As well as affecting your general health, smoking can also adversely affect fertility. This can improve upon quitting. OCCUPATIONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS Exposure to certain pesticides, metals and solvents affects fertility in men and women. STRESS If either you or your partner are stressed, this can suppress libido (sex drive), reducing the frequency of sexual intercourse.
Girls and guys
Need some help?
When there is nothing medically wrong with you or your partner but you are still struggling to conceive, ovarian stimulating medication is often used. Should this fail, a more invasive medically assisted conception is an option. Your GP will recommend the best one for you.
Dr Hilary Jones’ Healthcare guide – Essex, Kent and Sussex 065
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Dr Hilary Jones' Healthcare Guide - Essex, Kent & Sussex
A healthy hello from Dr Hilary
NEWS and views
the big interview
A weighty issue
fitness for free
DR HILARY ’S WELCOME
Make the right decision
choosing the best
Ear, nose and throat
obstetrics and gynaecology
Dr Hilary Jones' Healthcare Guide - Essex, Kent & Sussex