Richard M. Levin, MD., PSC. | Phone: 502-584-7787 | Fax: 502-589-3842 |

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Facts About Infertility

Infertility is a very common problem. It has been estimated that one couple in seven (15%) in the reproductive years is unable to conceive. When large populations of infertile couples have been evaluated, the causes of the infertility are as seen in the following table.

Causes of Infertility
Female Both Male
Dietary disturbances, severe anemia, anxiety, fear, eg (hypothalamus)
. General
Fatigue, excessive smoking and alcohol, fear, impotence, etc.
Uterine absence, hypoplasia, gonadal dysgenesis
. Developmental
Undescended testis, testicular germinal aplasia, hypospadia, Klinefelter's syndrome
Pituitary failure, thyroid disturbances, adrenal hyperplasia, ovarian failure, polycystic disease
. Endocrine
Pituitary failure, thyroid deficiency, adrenal hyperplasia
Genital Disease
Pelvic inflammation, tuberculosis, endometriosis, myomata and polyps, cervicitis, vaginitis
. Genital Disease
Orchitis, mumps, venereal disease, prostatitis
. Other .

Roughly then one-third of the cases are of female origin, one-third of male origin, and one-third result from a combined problem between the marital partners. Some of these problems appear more frequently in different socio-economic, cultural or geographic backgrounds.

To couples with infertility, it often appears that the frequency of the problem is increasing. Demographic statistics, however, do not support this impression. Two major factors contribute to the apparent upswing. (1) With increasing availability and acceptance of contraceptive methods, fewer and fewer single women are having unplanned pregnancies. This results in fewer babies being available for adoption by infertile couples. Furthermore, with liberalization of abortion laws in 1972 by the decision of the US. Supreme Court in the case of Rowe vs. Wade, a once abundant source of adoptive babies has all but vanished. (2) It is well known that relative fertility declines with increasing age of the wife. As more women delay both marriage and childbirth in order to pursue career goals, there is a natural decline in the fertility index. (There is no truth to the myth that because a woman used birth-control pills for contraception that subsequent infertility might result. Neither is it true that the fertility index is increased. The pregnancy rate for women who have used birth-control pills is identical to the rate for the general population.

One of the more serious side effects of infertility is the emotional upheaval it causes childless couples. Individuals begin to question their own worth as a man or woman. Partners begin to question the functional capabilities of their spouse. Many couples dont feel comfortable discussing their own frustrations about the problem either with each other or with friends, relatives, or their personal physician. This often then leads to a sense of isolation and depression. To further make matters worse, there are the never ending stream of inquiries from friends and relatives about why you dont have any children. Before long, serious marital problems may develop. Lines of communication tend to deteriorate and at this point the problem of infertility may become a secondary problem. If you see this happening to you, please address the issue head-on with your spouse. Inform me of the problem as well so that I can attempt to help you remedy the situation.

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