2000px-Endometriosis_loc_en.svgIn our last blog post we examined some of the lifestyle factors that might contribute to infertility. Today we want to talk about some of the physical problems that might result in a couple having difficulty in conceiving a child.

Fertility problems are often assumed to lie with the female partner. In fact, male infertility accounts for around 40% of all cases, so it is important to examine both partners thoroughly. At IVF Chelsea, we understand that this can be stressful and upsetting for couples and we take pains to put you at your ease.

Here, we look at some of the physical issues that might contribute to or cause infertility in both men and women:

Male infertility

Generally, male infertility is caused by either a low sperm count – so there are not enough sperm available to fertilise the egg – or a low sperm motility – where the sperm is not fast or active enough to reach the egg in time.

There are a number of possible physiological reasons for this:

  • Varicocele – a collection of bulging veins just above the testicle. This is a common cause of low sperm count and is very treatable
  • Undescended testicle
  • An infection in the testicle or prostate

Occasionally, there is no problem with the sperm itself, but there is a mechanical issue within the reproductive system that is preventing the sperm from getting where it needs to go. This could be:

  • A missing vas deferens – this is the main pipeline that takes the sperm where it needs to go. When the vas deferens is absent it tends to be a genetic problem
  • Retrograde ejaculation – this is a condition, usually caused by previous surgery, where semen is ejaculated backwards, so it goes into the bladder rather than out of the penis.
  • Obstruction – there may be something physically blocking the path of the sperm, anywhere between the testes and the penis

Female infertility

There are many potential causes of female infertility and age does play a part, as egg production and quality tends to decrease after the age of 35. However, there are some other physiological problems in women that can cause infertility. These include:

  • Hormonal problems – when hormone levels are too high or become out of sync, this can affect ovulation
  • Damaged fallopian tubes – this could be caused by previous surgery, which has resulted in scarring that is causing a blockage in the tubes, or by infection. The fallopian tubes carry the egg to the uterus, so if there is a blockage then fertilisation cannot occur
  • Cervical problems – although rare, it is possible that there is a condition that is preventing the sperm from passing through the cervical canal
  • Uterine problems – if the womb has polyps, fibroids or an abnormal anatomy, this could be causing infertility

Here at IVF Chelsea, we can help with most of these problems, not only by providing physical solutions, such as surgery or fertility treatment, but also by offering emotional support throughout the process.