Infertility occurs when a couple cannot conceive after having regular unprotected sex for a year. It may be that one partner cannot contribute to conception or that a woman cannot carry a pregnancy to full term.
8 to 12% of couples experience fertility problems worldwide, and between 45 and 50% of cases stem from factors that affect the man. Fortunately, treatments are often available.
What are the causes of infertility in Nigerian men?
Semen is the milky fluid that a man’s penis releases during orgasm. It consists of fluid and sperm, and the sperm is produced in the testicles. The fluid comes from the prostate gland, the seminal vesicle, and other sex glands.
When a man ejaculates and releases semen through the penis, the seminal fluid, or semen, helps transport the sperm toward the egg. Sometimes the sperm cannot travel effectively to meet the egg.
The common causes of infertility in men depend on the nature and quantity of sperm. The common ones include;
Low sperm count: The man ejaculates a low number of sperm. A sperm count of under 15 million is considered low. Around one-third of couples have difficulty conceiving due to a low sperm count.
Low sperm mobility: The sperm cannot “swim” to reach the egg. In this case, the sperm is slow during transportation to the eggs.
Abnormal sperm: The sperm may have an unusual shape, making it harder to move and fertilise an egg. If the sperm does not have the right shape or cannot travel rapidly and accurately towards the egg, conception may be complex.
According to research, up to 2% of men have suboptimal sperm. Abnormal semen may not be able to carry the sperm effectively. This can result from a medical condition like a testicular infection, cancer, or surgery.
Overheated testicles: Causes include an undescended testicle, a varicose vein in the scrotum, using saunas or hot tubs, wearing tight clothes, and working in hot environments.
Ejaculation disorders: If the ejaculatory ducts are blocked, semen may be ejaculated into the bladder.
Hormonal imbalance: Sometimes, a rise and reduction in hormones like testosterone can lead to a testosterone deficiency. This condition may lead to a reduction in the reproductive activity of the man.
Causes of infertility in Nigerian women
The primary cause of infertility in females are myriad, and each is treated accordingly. The most common ones include;
Ovulation disorders: In this case, you ovulate infrequently or not at all.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS causes a hormone imbalance, which affects ovulation. PCOS is associated with insulin resistance, obesity, abnormal hair growth on the face or body, and acne. It’s the most common cause of female infertility.
Hypothalamic dysfunction: Two hormones produced by the pituitary gland stimulate ovulation each month, the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH).
Body weight: A very high or low body weight can disrupt the production of these hormones and affect ovulation. Irregular or absent periods are the most common signs.
Premature ovarian failure: Also called primary ovarian insufficiency. This disorder is usually caused by an autoimmune response or premature loss of eggs from the ovaries (possibly from genetics or chemotherapy).
The ovary no longer produces eggs, lowering oestrogen production in women under 40.
Hyperprolactinaemia: The pituitary gland may cause excess production of prolactin, which reduces oestrogen production and may cause infertility.
Hyperprolactinaemia can also be caused by medications you’re taking for another disease.
Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes: It prevents sperm from getting to the egg or blocking the passage of the fertilised egg into the uterus.
Endometriosis: It occurs when tissue that usually grows in the uterus implants and grows in other locations. This extra tissue growth and the surgical removal may cause scarring.
In turn, scarring may block the fallopian tubes and prevents the egg and sperm from uniting.
Uterine or cervical causes: Several uterine or cervical causes can impact fertility by interfering with implantation or increasing the likelihood of a miscarriage.
Benign polyps or tumours (fibroids or myomas): They are common in the uterus. Some can block the fallopian tubes or interfere with implantation, affecting fertility. However, many women who have fibroids or polyps can become pregnant.
Dealing with infertility as a couple is a daunting and emotionally draining experience. You may attend a couple’s therapy session while undergoing treatment at a fertility hospital. Be kind to one another as you navigate this phase together.