However, proper treatment may restore fertility. During pregnancy, existing fibroids may grow at a greater pace due to the increased blood flow and estrogen levels but they usually return to their original size after delivery.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Definition & Cause: Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a general term for infection of the lining of the uterus, the fallopian tubes. It is a very common disease and in the United States alone, nearly 1 million women develop PID each year and more than 100,000 women become infertile as a result of PID (NAID Fact sheet, 2005). It is caused in a majority of cases through sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia and gonorrhea but PID-causing bacteria may also cause infection through other means such as during childbirth, abortion, or IUD insertion.
Complications: PID can damage the fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, and cervix, leading to chronic pelvic pain and serious damage to the reproductive system. The risk for infertility through adhesion or blockage of fallopian tube increase manifold with each episode of PID. It may also cause ectopic pregnancy -- an abnormal pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus and in which the baby cannot survive.
Treatment through oral or intravenous antibiotics is usually effective for most types of PID. Hospitalization is sometimes necessary in severe cases for proper treatment. If the symptoms persist after such treatment or there are complications of PID such as chronic pelvic pain and scarring, surgery may be required. Prevention of PID is most important through abstinence, careful choice of sexual partners, and/or concurrent treatment of sex partners.
Complications of Treatment: There are no significant complications of treatment except that some bacteria that cause PID are resistant to antibiotics and complications of PID such as chronic pelvic pain and scarring are difficult to treat.
Prognosis: In a minority of cases (about 15% of cases), the initial antibiotic therapy fails, and about 20% of cases experience a recurrence of PID in future.
Low Sperm Count:
Definition & Cause: Low sperm count is the most frequent cause of infertility in men. The normal sperm count varies from 20 to 150 million sperm per milliliter of semen; hence any number significantly lower than 20 million may be defined as low sperm count. There are many biologic and environmental factors that can lead to low sperm count; these include aging, genetic factors, testicular exposure to high temperatures, exposure to chemicals such as lead, mercury, pesticides, industrial cleaning products, adhesives, and fertilizers or heavy metals, including aluminum, copper and selenium. Certain prescription medicines for depression, blood pressure, or ulcers also affect sperm production, which is usually reversible. Exposure to radiation or chemotherapy treatment for testicular cancer can also cause a low sperm count. (Tomlins, 2003, p. 86)
Complications: Possible infertility is the main complication of a low sperm count.
Injections with hormones is the basic treatment for low sperm count since abnormal levels of certain hormones such the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) hinders the development of sperm in the testes or insufficient luteinising hormone (LH) affects the production of testosterone, which is needed to help maintain the sperm. Other treatments consist of changes in lifestyle such as getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding stress, avoiding hot baths and wearing of tight underwear, avoiding exposure to heavy metals and harmful chemicals. (Ibid 83)
Complications of Treatment: Hormonal treatment should be carried out only under the supervision of a qualified doctor.
Prognosis: Although a "low sperm count" may cause infertility but a man with a low sperm count can still father a child, naturally. Change in lifestyle can also improve sperm count.
Definition & Cause: Also called "male erectile dysfunction;" it is a condition in which a man cannot get or keep an erection long enough to have sexual intercourse. It is a common problem and about 25% of all men over the age of 65 suffer from some degree of impotence. (Sisson, 2001). Impotence can be caused by either mental or physical problems, or a combination of both. For example depression or some other emotional problem may affect interest in having sex. Physical problems include the way in which blood flows into the penis and is kept there during an erection. Diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions, poor circulation, low testosterone, and injury can also cause impotence.
Complications: Although impotence is a cause of infertility because impotent men cannot have satisfactory sex with a woman, an impotent man who is unable to maintain an erection is still usually capable of producing sperm that could fertilize an egg. Emotional effect (feelings of inferiority) is another major complication.
Several treatment options are available for impotence. They include medicines taken by mouth, injections into the penis, vacuum devices, and surgery. Pills such as Sildenafil (Viagra), and vardenafil (Levitra) are popular remedies. Testosterone is prescribed if the problem is related to age. Other treatments include use of a vacuum pump or penile implant.
Side Effects of Treatment: Viagra and other impotence medications are harmful for men with heart condition and blood pressure especially for those who take nitroglycerin.
Prognosis: Impotence is treatable in most cases now and should not be a major barrier for fertility.
Definition & Cause: These are small varicose veins in the scrotum can affect the temperature of the testes, which in turn can affect the development of sperms. It occurs when the valves within the veins along the spermatic cord fail to work properly and the defective valves prevent normal blood flow and cause blood to backup in the veins. (Knowles, 2005)
Complications: Varicoceles are a common cause of infertility. May also cause pain an discomfort due to swelling. In older men, it may also be caused by a kidney tumor.
It can be managed with a scrotal support. In more serious cases, further treatment such as surgical removal, laparoscopic removal, and catheter embolization is done. (Ibid.)
Side Effects of Treatment: Possible complications of surgery in particular include blood clots, infection, or injury to the scrotal tissue. Injury to the artery that supplies blood the testicle is another possible side-effect of surgery.
Prognosis: A varicocele is usually harmless and usually requires no treatment. Even if surgery is required because of infertility or testicular concerns, the treatment is usually successful.
Carson-DeWitt, R., and Odle, T.G. (2006). "Infertility.." The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Third Edition. Jacqueline L. Longe, Editor. 5 vols. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2006.
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Mallari, B. (2001). "Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome." 3 RX.com. Retrieved on November 6, 2006 at http://www.3-rx.com/polycystic-ovarian-syndrome/default.php
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Musil, J.D. (1996). "Infertility Treatments, Side Effects, and Cost." Surrogacy.com. Retrieved on November 6, 2006 at http://www.surrogacy.com/medres/article/infertil.html
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Sisson, E.M. "Erectile Dysfunction." 3-rx.com. Retrieved on November 6, 2006 at http://www.3-rx.com/erectile-dysfunction/default.php
Smith, M.N. (2006). "Infertility." Medeline Plus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved on November 6, 2006 at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001191.htm
Tomlins, J. (2003). The Infertility Handbook: A Guide to Making Babies. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin.
Doctors recommend that couples who have known barriers to fertility, such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, male factor infertility, irregular cycles, etc., should not wait for such period(s) before seeking expert advice for infertility
Some publications put the figure attributable to females as 40% of all infertility
Vericocel are small varicose veins in the scrotum
Cryptorchidism is a condition in which the testes fail to descend into the scrotum of an infant