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Published On: Mon, Aug 15th, 2016

How does a couple know if they are infertile?

Not every couple who seems to be struggling with achieving pregnancy is infertile in medical terms.  For some of them, it might just be that they do not have the right information or are not doing the right things. So what are the indicators for infertility? How would a couple know if they are infertile? Experts say a couple is considered infertile if they are unable to achieve pregnancy after regular unprotected sex for 12 months.

“If a couple has been married or co-habiting and have been having regular unprotected sex for a year without achieving pregnancy,” said Dr Joseph Akinde, a gynaecologist and MD, LivingSpring Hospital, Ejigbo, Lagos.

How often is ‘regular?’

For some couples,  it may be that they are living apart and able to have sex as often as they should or do not know that to conceive they need to make love during the woman’s fertile period for her to conceive. A fertility expert, Dr Tunde Okewale of St Ives Hospital, Ikeja explained that while it may be convenient for “For newly married couple, every day, recommended, “a minimum of three times a week for couples.”  Adding, “But the most important thing is to have sex during  the woman’s  fertile period which is most of the time is somewhere around the mid cycle.”

Infertility is, most of the time, blamed on women but men have a far share of the blame. According to fertility experts; the causes are 30 % women, 30 men, 10 both while the remaining 19% are due too unexplained factors.

Other infertility indicators to watch

In women, signs to watch to watch out include physical signs such as irregular, scanty menses or absence of menses;   medical conditions (which have to be elicited by a doctor)such as irregular menstruation, sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory diseases, repeated miscarriage, blocked fallopian tubes,  endometriosis, Poly-cyst Ovarian Syndrome(PCOS).

“When a woman has a lot of hair on her chest or she has a stock heavy-built like a man, when she does not menstruate regularly or her menses are scanty, you can say this woman is likely to have problem with fertility,” averred Akinde.

In men, there are hardly physical signs of infertility but presence of one or more of some conditions such as imbalance of hormones like testosterone, prolactin and estrogen, low sperm count, poor sperm quality, sexually transmitted diseases, genetic diseases or disorders, erectile dysfunction (impotence), physical injuries to the reproductive organs, structural abnormalities, retrograde ejaculation, medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, thyroid diseases, may be indication of infertility.

To conceive, both a man and his wife must not only be healthy and free of fertility-hurting conditions they have meet other conditions.

“For a man to impregnate his wife, he must be sexually arousable, that is, able to get an erection. He must have the erection long enough to go inside the woman and ejaculate inside her. That is the physical part.

Then the semen he has released must be of good quality in terms  of the count, the volume, the motility, and morphology(shape)- the sperms normal or abnormal?” explained Dr Olusegun Akaredolu, another seasoned gynaecologist, and MD, Royal Oak Hospital, Festac, Lagos.

Fertility experts advise couples to see a doctor if they are unable to conceive after one year of regular intercourse or if they suspect any of the conditions earlier listed.

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