Category: Fertility Blog

Female infertility

Female infertility may occur when:

  • A fertilized egg or embryo does not survive once it sticks to the lining of the womb (uterus)
  • The fertilized egg does not attach to the lining of the uterus
  • The eggs cannot move from the ovaries to the womb
  • The ovaries have problems producing eggs

Female infertility may be caused by:

  • Autoimmune disorders, such as antiphospholipid syndrome (APS)
  • Cancer or tumor
  • Clotting disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Growths (such as fibroids or polyps) in the uterus and cervix
  • Birth defects that affect the reproductive tract
  • Excessive exercising
  • Eating disorders or poor nutrition
  • Use of certain medications, including chemotherapy drugs
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Obesity
  • Older age
  • Ovarian cysts and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Pelvic infection or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Scarring from sexually transmitted infection or endometriosis
  • Thyroid disease
  • Too little or too many hormones

Male infertility

Male infertility may be due to

  • A decrease in sperm count
  • Sperm being blocked from being released
  • Sperm that do not work properly

Male infertility can be caused by

  • Environmental pollutants
  • Being in high heat for prolonged periods
  • Birth defects
  • Heavy use of alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine
  • Too little or too much hormones
  • Impotence
  • Infection
  • Older age
  • Cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation
  • Scarring from sexually transmitted diseases, injury, or surgery
  • Retrograde ejaculation
  • Smoking
  • Use of certain drugs, such as cimentidine, spironolactone and nitrofurantoin

In healthy couples under age 30 who have sex regularly, the chance of getting pregnant is about 25 – 30% per month.

A woman’s peak fertility occurs in her early 20s. After age 35 (and especially 40), the chances that a woman can get pregnant drop considerably.

Natural Conception

Natural conception takes place when the sperm cells, after intercourse, swim up through the neck of the uterus and into the uterine tubes where they meet the egg and fertilise it. After the fertilisation of the egg in the uterine tube the egg cleaves, and after a couple of days the fertilised egg has moved down though the uterine tube and into the uterus. In the uterus the egg adheres to the endometrium and develops into a baby. This process is illustrated below:

In order for this process to take place it is important that the woman produces mature eggs, has an ovulation, has passage through the uterine tubes, and that the man’s sperm quality is all right.

Unexplained Infertility

This is the inability to identify the cause of infertility despite a complete evaluation of semen, ovarian reserve, ovulation, endocrinologic disorders and pelvic anatomy.

How can I prevent infertility?

What you and your partner may not know is that some of the factors that influence fertility are within your control and most of these revolve around your lifestyle.
 Your lifestyle may influence your general outlook, stress levels, and even your fertility potential. If you are ready to take the step into parenthood then it is time to make some sacrifices.

Alcohol and Pregnancy

Certain toxins can prevent you from conceiving, or even cause miscarriage, consider eliminating alcohol. Moderate drinking usually won’t lower sperm count in men or harm fertility in women. But large amounts of alcohol (usually defined as more than two drinks per day for men and more than one drink per day for women) may lower your odds for parenthood. Women who are trying to conceive should stop drinking entirely.

Caffeine and Pregnancy

Can’t give up that hankering for a cup of coffee in the morning? Crave a coke in the afternoon for a little pick-me-up? If you’re trying to become pregnant, now is a great time to kick your caffeine habit… marijuana, cocaine, and anabolic steroids can all contribute to infertility in men. Women trying to get pregnant, of course, should avoid recreational drugs and alcohol because of the potential danger to the fetus.

Smoking and Pregnancy

Don’t smoke. Smoking cigarettes causes hormonal changes that can lead to menstrual irregularities and even an ovulation (menstrual cycles where ovulation fails to occur). It can damage your eggs. Smoking can interfere with virtually every aspect of a woman’s fertility, from ovulation to early development of the embryo. Smoking can slightly lower a man’s sperm count and may even contribute to impotence.

Weight & Fertility

The sex hormones of both men and women are closely tied to weight. The number on the scale plus your body fat percentage can help you calculate the weight that’s healthiest for you. Keep in mind that in order to lose a pound per week, you would need to cut 500 calories per day either through diet, exercise or both. Heavier men may face fertility problems. Part of the reason is that an increase in abdominal fat is associated with insulin resistance and a rise in insulin production, which wreaks havoc on sex hormones. It’s a problem for women, too: When obese women do become pregnant, they are more likely to have miscarriages than lean women of the same age.


Get your exercise, but don’t overdo it. Over exercising that leaves you underweight can lessen your chances of conceiving. Too little exercise, which contributes to an overweight physique, can do the same.

Check your medicine

Check your medicine cabinet. Some prescription drugs can impair fertility in both men and women. For men, the list of potential culprits includes the heartburn medication cimetidine (Tagamet), the rheumatoid arthritis drug (Azulfidine), and several chemotherapy drugs. A woman’s fertility may be hampered by certain antibiotics, painkillers, antidepressants, and hormonal treatments. Ask your doctor if any of your medications could be causing infertility. A change of prescription just might solve the problem.

Antenatal Care

Antenatal care monitors your health during pregnancy, as well as the health and development of your baby. It can help predict possible problems with your pregnancy or the birth, so action can be taken to avoid or treat them.

Your first antenatal appointment will probably be your booking-in appointment and usually happens at about eight to 12 weeks. You can expect to have appointments every four weeks after week 12, every two weeks from week 32, and every week during the last three or four weeks.

You’ll be asked a number of questions about your health, family history and any previous pregnancies. The aim is to get a basic picture of your health and your pregnancy so far. The midwife might discuss issues such as diet, smoking and work; she may also ask about your thoughts on breast or bottle-feeding and give you information on these. You don’t have to make up your mind on this or on any other matter, but it’s a good chance to ask questions and clear up anything you’re worried about.

Routine checks at appointments are likely to include:

  • Blood pressure
  • Weight
  • Palpation – feeling your tummy
  • Listening to your baby’s heart
  • Questions about your baby’s movements
  • Urine tests
  • Checking for any swelling in your legs, arms or face
  • Questions about how you feel

Labour and Delivery

Women who feel able to do so are encouraged to walk during the early stages of labor, which can make them more comfortable. One support person may be present during labor and delivery.

Cesarean birth

There are many reasons why the decision may be made to perform a cesarean section. Sometimes, the cesarean is planned in advance because of an existing medical condition or because there will be more than two babies born. Other times, a cesarean section is performed after labor fails to progress and there is some concern about the health of the baby or mother.

Anesthesia provided before and during a cesarean section allows women to remain comfortable during the procedure. Most remain awake during the birth. Husbands are invited to be present in the cesarean section room. After giving birth, women who have had a cesarean are encouraged to hold their baby, breastfeed and bond.

Recovery from a cesarean section will take longer than a vaginal birth. However, women who have had cesarean sections will generally be up and out of bed within 24 hours, with the help of their nurse, and are encouraged to walk and move around. They stay in the hospital a few extra days. In addition, new moms who have had a c-section should plan on some extra help for when they leave the hospital.

Post-birth Care

Our private recovery rooms are equipped with color televisions, telephones, lavatories and comfortable birthing beds.

After the baby is born, new mothers are encouraged to initiate breastfeeding to encourage bonding during this period. Husbands are invited to be present in both the recovery room.

Right after birth, your baby will be evaluated by a Womens’ Hospital International & Fertility centre health career (obstetrician, nurse practitioner and/or neonatologist), who checks your baby’s vital signs, such as blood pressure and heart rate. This is a judgment of the baby’s activity, pulse, grimace, appearance and color.

Babies are weighed and given treatment to prevent eye infection. Identification bands are placed on the baby and both parents, and the baby’s footprints and mother’s thumbprint are obtained to ensure proper identification.