Infertility: Not just a Woman’s Issue
Infertility is a condition when a person is not able to conceive a child in spite of multiple attempts of unprotected sexual intercourse in at least one year. The World Health Organisation estimates that 15% of couples experience fertility problems worldwide. This medical condition has adverse effects on a couple’s mental health as it leads to depression and stress. Infertility can be prevalent in either the husband or the wife. It can also occur due to a combination of factors in both the husband and wife, or because of unknown reasons. Unfortunately, in many societies of Bangladesh, when a couple does not have a baby in spite of being married for several years, the woman alone is burdened with the blame of being infertile. This is followed by receiving continuous chastisements in the form of taunts by family members and neighbours. In many cases, the husband marries another woman after leaving his wife, or even in the presence of his wife with the hope of having his own children . This makes infertility a social condition as well.
A research was carried out by the International Journal of Pharmacology with the help of data available at Infertility Treatment and Research Centre (ITRC) in Bangladesh in which it was discovered that in 60% cases, it was the males who were responsible for infertility either fully or partially. ‘Of them 40% were azoospermia, 34% were oligospermic and the rest 5% were asthenospermia and teratospermia. 1% case was due to non-descendent and maldevelopment of testes, rest per cent was designed as unexplained infertility,’ the report further says.
When a couple fails to conceive a child even after multiple attempts of unprotected sex, both the man and woman must visit a doctor to find out the underlying causes that lay behind. A few signs and symptoms of male infertility include: erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, pain, swelling or lumps in the testicle area, decreased body or facial hair, difficulty with ejaculation and reduced sexual desire. Male infertility can be caused because of different genetic, medical, socio-economic and environmental factors like infections or surgery of the reproductive tract, exposure of testes to high temperatures, indiscriminate use of contraceptive methods and high intake of tobacco and alcohol.
The risks of male infertility increases with age as blood testosterone level declines with age. After the age of 40, sperm quality changes, followed by a decrease in the semen volume, motility and normal morphology. Studies have also found that smokers are more likely to produce sperm that is not properly formed. Nicotine, a substance that is present in cigarettes is responsible for slowing down the mobility rate of sperms, making it difficult or perhaps impossible for the sperm to reach his partner’s ovum, resulting in a negative pregnancy result. According to the University of Utah, nearly 90% of the causes of male infertility can be cured with proper treatment.
The research by the International Journal of Pharmacology reports that out of the five methods they have tested for infertility treatment, IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) gave the best results. Intrauterine Insemination is a treatment which involves placing high quality wash sperm inside a woman’s uterus artificially via a catheter after carefully monitoring ovulation. Other infertility treatment methods include In Vitro Maturation (IVM) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).
Find a list of infertility specialists in Bangladesh here.
- M.A. Bashed, Gazi Mahabubul Alam, M.A. Kabir and Abul Quasem Al-Amin, 2012. Male Infertility in Bangladesh: What Serve Better-Pharmacological Help or Awareness Programme?. International Journal of Pharmacology, 8: 687-694.
- Bayer, S.R., M.M. Alper and A.S. Penzias, 2007. The Boston IVF Handbook of Infertility: A Practical Guide for Practitioners who Care for Infertile Couples. 2nd Edn., Taylor and Francis Group, London, Pages: 259.