This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Why is this necessary? Because there are tons of misconceptions about infertility. Because chances are someone you know is affected. (If you want to know how infertility is defined and how common it is, you can read yesterday's post here.)
If you've ever experienced infertility, you've heard the advice, "Just relax. Stop trying so hard and it'll happen."
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If you know someone who's going through infertility, you may have been the one to give that advice. If so, don't feel bad--you didn't know the weight of yours words. But here's the thing. The problem isn't always stress. It could be stress, but there are so many other physical reasons a person may not be able to conceive. Even if they're the chillest person on the planet. When you tell a person going through infertility to relax, all we hear is, "You're causing your own problem."
Again, if you've given us this advice, we hear you and we appreciate that you're trying to help. But the solution isn't always so simple.
Here's a list of possible causes of infertility. (Note: I'm not a fertility specialist or medical expert of any kind, so I don't know everything. If I miss something, please let me know, and I'll dd it to the list!) You can click on any of the italicized for further reading.
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Causes of infertility in women:
-PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome): an endocrine system disorder that causes irregular periods and interferes with ovulation.
-POI or POF (primary ovarian insufficiency or premature ovarian failure): ovaries stop working before the age of 40 and is not the same as early menopause.
-PID (pelvic inflammatory disease)
-Endometriosis: a disorder where the tissue that usually lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus.
-Surgery from ectopic pregnancy: in advanced cases, the fallopian tube may be destroyed or removed.
-Physical problems with uterus: a misshapen or out-of-place uterus.
-Uterine Fibroids: noncancerous growths that can prevent implantation from occurring.
-Age: chances of pregnancy per month start to decrease after age 30 and significantly drop after age 40.
-Cigarette smoke: causes increase in eggs and sperm or causes unhealthy eggs and sperm that increase chance of miscarriage. (Note: secondhand smoke has the same effect.)
-Alcohol: can damage sperm and/or cause hormonal imbalances.
-Stress: there you have it. Stress is a cause, but it's not the only cause or even the most common.
-Athletic training: too much exercise can mess with the menstrual cycle. Too little means your reproductive organs may not get the blood flow they need.
-Overweight or underweight: check with your doctor to make sure your BMI is within the healthy range.
-STIs: Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
-Gluten sensititivy : including Celiac disease or silent sensitivity
-Environmental hazards such as pesticides and chemicals
-Allergies to sperm
-Unexplained infertility: this happens when a medical expert can't find any physical reason for your infertility. Make sure your doctor rules out these issues.
Causes of infertility in men:
-Varicocele: veins in testicles are too large and cause overheating of sperm.
-Infections: STIs, mumps, inflamed prostate
-Retrograde ejaculation: semen enters the bladder.
-Antibodies attack sperm
-Undescended testicle: at birth, the testicle(s) never dropped into the correct position.
-Gluten sensitivity: Celiac disease or silent sensitivity
-Environmental toxins: pesticides and heavy metals
-Overheating the testicles: avoid hot baths, tight underwear, and hot tubs
If you made it through that list, you're a sport and a wonderful supporter. Thanks for taking the time to learn about the many potential causes, other than stress, of infertility.
Still not sure how to talk to your loved ones going through infertility? Tomorrow's post will focus on etiquette. For now, it means a lot that you cared enough to read this post!