Perhaps the most difficult aspect about infertility is that it goes against one of the oldest most deeply held assumptions about life – one day we will be parents. It is estimated that about 20% of Canadian couples experience some form of infertility, which is defined as the inability to conceive within one year of unprotected sexual intercourse. There are two types of infertility.
Primary Infertility – occurs when neither partner has conceived.
Secondary Infertility – occurs when a couple has achieved a pregnancy in the past but regular unprotected intercourse has not resulted in another pregnancy.
Fertility can be affected by a number of factors. This is why it is important to treat each patient as an individual when supporting fertility. A wide variety of systems can all affect fertility within the body for both men and women:
- nutritional health (lack of proper nutrition and / or too much fatty, sugary, processed foods)
- health of the reproductive system (uterus, ovary, testies, prostate)
- smoking damages sperm and eggs, reduces sperm counts and damages fallopian tubes
- alcohol, caffeine and drug use
- exposure to environmental toxins, pesticides, heavy metals impair estrogen receptors and reduce sperm counts
- endocrine dysfunction (thyroid, pituitary, hypothalamus, adrenal, testies / ovary)
- stress levels (physical and / or psychological)
- vaginal lubricants and douches which slow down and can kill sperm
- other health conditions such as diabetes, digestive issues, immune issues, neurological conditions and inflammatory conditions can all play a role in reducing fertility
- 50% of infertility in women and men is from “unknown causes” – these factors include diet and lifestyle (smoking, drug use, caffeine, stress)
- Female infertility can be due to blocked fallopian tubes (36%) or ovulation problems (33%)
- Other causes are from fibroids, polyps, scarring that affects uterine lining or endometriosis
- Anti-sperm antibodies have been reported in approximately 10% of infertile men which is due to immune factors in the female that create an environment that is hostile to sperm
- It is estimated that between 30-40% of cases are due to male infertility
- Low sperm counts can be a result of organ damage or failure, hormonal concerns, suboptimal temperatures of sperm and exposure to harmful chemicals or drugs.
- Research shows that “alternative” therapies such as acupuncture and nutrition have success rates of 50% or better
- Alice Domar PhD. A psychologist from Harvard University demonstrated in her body / mind approach that by reducing stress and anxiety greatly increases the success rates of fertility
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Statistics
When infertility is due to causes such as fallopian tube damage, IVF is an option. IVF has a success rate of 45-50% in women under 35 years, 28-35% in women 35-41 and 3% in women 43 and over.