What Causes Infertility? Introducing infertility testing methods and treatment methods
Many couples want children, but many suffer from infertility. About 35% of the couples answered that they have been worried about infertility, and about 20% of the couples have had an examination or treatment, so infertility is not uncommon. is a lot.
In this article, we will discuss the causes of infertility. In addition, we will talk about basic information such as the flow and cost of infertility treatment at the hospital. Whether you are currently trying to conceive or not, please use this as a reference for planning your future.
Find out in this article
- causes of infertility
- infertility test
- How to treat infertility
What is infertilityInfertility is defined as the inability to conceive for a period of time (generally defined as one year) after unprotected intercourse between healthy men and women. According to data, about 20% of couples in Japan have undergone treatment or examination for infertility, and about 7% of all babies born through assisted reproductive technology such as fertility treatment. Many couples who suffer from infertility have no physical or mental health problems, so in some cases, infertility is discovered after they start trying to conceive.
causes of infertilityVarious factors can cause infertility. Infertility was once thought to be caused by women, but it is now known that half of infertility cases are caused by men. Here, we discuss factors that may contribute to infertility.
fallopian tube factorThe fallopian tubes are the pathways through which the ovulated egg and sperm travel to the uterus for fertilization and implantation. If this passageway (fallopian tube) becomes inflamed due to an infection, it will be clogged. If the passage is blocked, the egg and sperm cannot be fertilized, and even if fertilization is possible, the fertilized egg cannot go to the uterus. In addition, abnormalities in the fallopian tubes are often difficult to recognize. In some cases, it can be recognized by menstrual irregularities or pain, but it may be asymptomatic and it may be late to notice.
ovulation factorOvulation is the release of an egg from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes, usually about two weeks before menstruation. After ovulation, the secretion of female hormones changes greatly, and the woman's body prepares to become pregnant. However, ovulation may not occur due to factors such as hormone secretion, lifestyle changes, and sudden weight changes. Even if you have a period, you may not have ovulated, so you should not be relieved just because you have a menstrual period every month. To check whether you are ovulating or not, it is important to measure your basal body temperature every day.
uterine factorIt can be caused by morphological or organic abnormalities or inflammation in the uterus, or poor blood circulation. The uterus is an important place where the fertilized egg implants. In particular, the endometrium in the uterus serves as a bed for the fertilized egg to implant, so if the bed is damaged by inflammation, the fertilized egg cannot implant and will flow out. Diseases such as uterine fibroids and sexually transmitted diseases can worsen the condition of the uterus, so regular examinations are important.
The cervix is a tubular organ at the entrance to the uterus. The cervix secretes mucus, which protects the vagina from infections and makes it easier for sperm to pass through.
By the way, the mucus seen in vaginal discharge contains mucus secreted from the cervical canal. However, if the secretion of mucus is low or the sperm cannot easily pass through the cervix, it will be difficult for the sperm to reach the egg.
The human body has a defense mechanism called immunity to fight off foreign substances from the outside world. The same applies to the inside of the vagina, and the cervical mucus and vaginal secretions introduced in the previous chapter have the effect of eliminating bacteria and viruses that have invaded the body.
However, in some cases, the sperm may be treated as a foreign substance, and the secretion may contain antibodies against the sperm. If these antibodies are present, the sperm will become sluggish and immobile before reaching the uterus.
Sperm use their own motility to reach the egg and fertilize it.
Cause unknownIn both men and women, no cause can be found even after testing. Surprisingly, there are many couples who do not get pregnant despite having no organic abnormalities or lesions. It is reported that the rate accounts for 10-25% of infertile couples. Declining ovarian function due to aging is cited as a factor, due to the tendency to marry later and the age at which people want to conceive.
male factorInfertility can be caused not only by women but also by men. For example, abnormalities in sperm count or motility. If the number of sperm in the semen is lower than normal or if the motility of the sperm is low, the possibility of reaching the egg decreases. Even if there is an egg, if the sperm cannot reach it, fertilization cannot occur, so pregnancy cannot occur.
What are infertility tests?
Infertility tests include:
Types of infertility tests
|test name||content||cost||required time|
|basal body temperature||Record your basal body temperature and self-check the timing of ovulation||Free (You need to prepare a lady's thermometer)||30 seconds to 5 minutes every day|
|Endocrine (hormone) test||Blood test for female hormones important for pregnancy and thyroid function||2,000～3,000 yen (insurance applicable)||The blood collection itself ends immediately, but there are cases where multiple tests are performed according to the menstrual cycle.|
|Ovarian reserve test (AMH test: anti-Mullerian hormone)||Tests ovarian reserve by measuring AMH (a hormone believed to reflect the number of eggs in the ovaries) in the blood||1,500-2,500 yen (insurance applicable) 5,000-7,000 yen (own expense)||A few days to a week after blood collection|
|hysterosalpingography||Imaging with a contrast medium to check for blockages and abnormalities in the uterus and fallopian tubes||2,000～3,000 yen (insurance applicable)||About 1 to 2 hours after administration of contrast medium, imaging, image analysis, etc.|
|Ultrasound examination||Check for abnormalities in the uterus, such as the presence or absence of uterine fibroids and the thickness of the endometrium||2,000～3,000 yen (insurance applicable)||30 minutes to 1 hour|
|cervical factor test||To check for abnormalities in the secretion or composition of cervical secretions||2,000-3,000 yen (insurance coverage) 6,000-8,000 yen (own expense)||Results are available within a few days to 10 days after sample collection|
|sperm test||A test performed by the man to check the number and motility of the sperm in the semen||1,500-3,000 yen (insurance applicable) 5,000-6,000 yen (own expense)||Results are available within a few days to 10 days after sample collection|
|Other screening tests as necessary||When other diseases are suspected||Varies depending on inspection content||Varies depending on inspection content|
Just as there are multiple causes of infertility, there are also multiple tests. Not all tests are performed, but a combination of these tests is commonly done to identify the cause.
to treat infertilityVarious factors are involved in the cause of infertility, but first of all, it is very important to review your usual lifestyle for treatment of infertility. Here, we introduce a review of awareness that is important for treatment.
improvement of lifestyleMany modern people are busy with work and housework every day, and such people tend to neglect sleep and food. The endocrine system, such as female hormones and male hormones, which are important for preparing for pregnancy, is very delicate, and even a little inconsistency can lead to disturbances in secretion. If you have an irregular lifestyle , start by reviewing your lifestyle habits, such as eating three well-balanced meals a day, going to bed early and waking up early (6-8 hours of sleep), and exercising moderately.
reduce stressStress is said to cause not only infertility but also various diseases. Moderate stress stimulates the brain and adversely affects the body. Find your own way to relieve stress, such as finding time to immerse yourself in your hobbies while trying not to hoard it as much as possible, or massage or stretch. In addition, the conversion of consciousness and recognition, such as converting things to positive, also has the effect of lowering the sensitivity to stress.
start infertility treatment at a hospital
When actually starting infertility treatment at a hospital, in general, treatment is often performed in several steps.
In addition, there are treatments that match the menstrual cycle and treatments that need to be repeated, so it tends to be a long process. Therefore, infertility treatment should be started as early as possible when conception is desired.
There are various treatment methods such as the timing method, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and frozen-thawed embryo transfer, but the cost of infertility treatment can be quite expensive, ranging from 100,000 to 1,000,000 yen depending on the content.
Infertility treatment is a burden on couples in terms of time and money. However, from April 2022, fertility treatment will be covered by insurance, making it easier for couples who have given up on fertility treatment due to financial reasons. (Some treatments are not covered by insurance.) If covered by insurance, you will be responsible for 30% of the cost of treatment.
Also read the following articles → The first step in infertility treatment | What is the probability of getting pregnant with the timing method?
This time, I explained the basic contents such as the causes of infertility, examination and treatment. There are various causes of infertility treatment, and it is necessary to treat according to the cause.
On the other hand, it can be time-consuming and expensive and put pressure on couples. As mentioned earlier, infertility is not uncommon. Don't take it personally as your fault, let's do what you can do at your own pace.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to consult a specialist. You'll get the insight and advice you need from an expert.