Diseases that affect the fertility of men and women are not limited to the diseases or anomalies found in the reproductive tract, directly involved in the process of conceiving a child. Chronic, digestive disorders, stress and even gum disease can be the cause of the inability to get pregnant. Here's what the doctors say!
Diseases and abnormalities of the reproductive tract
Even if they are not the only ones responsible for the inability to conceive children, the pathologies found in the reproductive system of both sexes - uterus, uterine tubes, ovaries, vagina, penis, testicles, etc. - are the main causes of infertility. The most common genital disorders that interfere with women's fertility are:
- gynecological infections (STDs) and of the reproductive tract;
- pelvic inflammatory disease;
- uterine fibroids;
- polycystic ovary syndrome;
- uterine polyps and scars;
- hormonal imbalances.
In men, the most common diseases of the reproductive tract that interfere with the ability to conceive children are:
- varicocele (dilation of the vein that drains the testicles in the scrotum);
- erectile or sexual dysfunctions;
- prostate diseases;
- hormonal imbalances (thyroid disease, increased prolactin levels, FSH, etc.);
- anomalies or infections in the semen and problems related to sperm quality and quantity;
- cryptorchidia (testicular incapacity);
- epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis);
- venereal diseases.
Chronic diseases, independent of the reproductive system of the body, have a negative influence on female fertility. According to researchers in reproductive medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia, chronic pathologies, such as thyroid, liver, or kidney disorders, affect the pituitary gland's poor functioning and disrupt ovulation, thus hindering the conception process.
Women with a medical history of eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia are less likely to become pregnant than those who have not been diagnosed with such conditions. It is the discovery of British researchers from "University College London" who have undertaken a study of 11,000 pregnant women, 500 of whom have a history of anorexia nervosa, bulimia or both disorders.
They found that women with a history of eating disorders are less likely to conceive than those without such pathologies. In addition, those who have experienced or are experiencing anorexia or bulimia require twice as many fertility treatments to succeed in becoming pregnant.
The foods that women and men consume and the digestive disorders they suffer can affect their chances of becoming parents. Dr. Sheila Crowe, a professor in the medical department of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Virginia, USA, explains how celiac disease, the most common digestive disorder caused by gluten, affects fertility in both women and men.
The university professor argues that, left untreated, celiac disease can lead to menstrual cycle disorders, early menopause, amenorrhea and other medical conditions that interfere with ovulation and make the conception process more difficult. In men, the same pathology disturbs testosterone levels and affects the quality and quantity of sperm.
In an article published in the July 2013 issue of the International Journal of Molecular and Cellular Medicine (IJMCM), 3 Iranian doctors explain how autoimmune diseases interfere with the conception ability of both men and women.
Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, can affect men's reproductive organs and sperm, and in women, the same conditions can cause the immune system to reject the egg or embryo implantation in the uterus.
Stress is one of the main reasons why most modern couples fail to conceive a child. Doctor and journalist Margareta D. Pisarska, co-director of Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, points out in a research published in the journal "Human Reproduction" the strong negative impact that stress has on male and female fertility.
After analyzing several studies, the specialist found that relaxed and happy people tend to conceive a child easier than those burdened by worries and emotional problems.
Obesity severely affects the chances of conception, especially among women. According to a study by researchers at the Academic Center in Amsterdam, obese women are 43% less likely to conceive than those with normal or slightly overweight.
Obesity leads to hormonal imbalances, chronic diseases and menstrual cycle disorders that affect ovulation and prevent pregnancy. A study recently conducted by the nutrition department of Ambroise Pare Hospital in Paris shows that the risk of infertility under stress increases in men.
An experiment analyzing the medical records of several men - normal and obese - showed that those diagnosed with obesity had multiple conditions associated with infertility, especially in the quality and quantity of sperm.
The specialists present at the annual meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology in Sweden, from 2011, presented a surprising theory. According to them, gum disease may affect women's fertility. They have not found out exactly how these oral conditions impact fertility, but believe that the spread of inflammation in the body may be responsible for lowering the chances of conception.
With or without evidence, the researchers presented the results of an experiment performed on 4000 women, pregnant in 3 months. They found that women with gum disease needed two extra months to conceive the baby, compared to those who did not suffer from such problems.
Sexually transmitted diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases mainly affect fertility through infections of the upper genital tract and its sequelae.
Except in rare cases of obstruction of the male deferential canal, sexually transmitted diseases rarely cause infertility in men.
Chlamydia it is a serious infection that mainly affects women.
Bacteria cause serious infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes, which can result in sterility or pregnancy complications.
This disease is transmitted sexually by an infected partner and may not be detected any longer.
In fact, three out of four infected women and 40% of sick men don't even know they carry these bacteria.
Unfortunately, they find out the cause is too late to avoid the bad consequences. In the case of a pregnant woman, the child may suffer malformations. The most suitable method of protection is the condom.
Chlamydia is a serious problem; It is one of the most common diseases, but its detection is quite difficult.
If left untreated, bacteria can cause sterility, migrating from the urethra and cervix to the fallopian tubes and inflaming the fallopian tubes.
Because some infections are difficult to detect, an annual test for sexually transmitted diseases is required, which can be done together with the Babes-Pap smear test.
You must also perform certain tests before conceiving a child. During the first prenatal visit, the doctor will take blood samples and perform an analysis of the reproductive system. But don't just rely on tests; some stages of the disease can not always be detected.
Because many infections are devoid of symptoms, it is very important to get under control even a few months before conceiving a baby.
Many of these diseases can be treated with antibiotics and the body can become immune. Thus, complications during childbirth can be avoided if the woman goes to a regular checkup.
Almost half of the one million women who suffer from this infection become sterile. Another effect may be the ectopic pregnancy: the fertilized egg cannot reach the uterus and develop in the fallopian tubes.
Extraction of the fetus is extremely dangerous for the mother and may cause the infection to worsen.
In men, infestation with Chlamydia can have serious consequences on the reproductive tract: testicular disorders, urinary tract. If left untreated, the individual may remain sterile.
Like chlamydia, half of infested women do not know that they are sick, and 10-40% of them develop an even more serious condition. In men, gonorrhea attacks the genital tract and prevents sperm evacuation.
In women with gonorrhea, Bartholin's glands have poor functioning. The canals are blocked and swollen until a wound forms. In this case, the lower area of the vulva becomes red on the infected side.
If the infection is not treated and it spreads, it can affect the uterus by exposing the infected person to the risk of developing pelvic inflammation which can lead to infertility problems later.
Men who have gonorrhea and are not treated are at risk for the infection to spread to the urethra where it can infect the prostate, seminal vesicles, Cowper's glands and epididymis where it will form a painful wound and cause chills.
If the wound is healed the man may face fertility problems later.
The human immunodeficiency virus is the one that causes the disease called AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). It affects menstrual cycles and severely affects pregnancy.
There is currently no cure for this disease, but if you are infected with this virus you can talk to your doctor to prevent it being transmitted to other people or to the unborn child.
The fertility of HIV-infected women is 25-40% lower than that of seronegative women. This is mainly because the virus affects the menstrual cycle.
HIV usually decreases, fertility in women has just reached maturity.
This disease does not cause sterility, but the fetus can suffer very serious conditions. This is why prenatal tests are very important.
If a woman becomes infected with herpes just before giving birth, the transmission of the disease can be prevented by Caesarean section.
Like herpes, the hepatitis virus does not greatly affect fertility, but destroys the liver of the individual. It can be transmitted sexually or by transfusion. If the infection occurs when you are pregnant it can be transmitted to the child.
Unfortunately, hepatitis B is devoid of symptoms; thus, a sick mother may not even know that she suffers from this condition.
Most people treat and develop immunity to this virus. If you have chronic hepatitis or are afraid that you may be exposed to this virus then the best thing is to get a vaccine.
If you become pregnant immediately after vaccination, there is still a chance that the fetus will be affected; The inoculated substance contains inactive particles of hepatitis B. It is best to wait three months until you become pregnant.
This virus is part of the herpes family and is transmitted sexually or through saliva, urine, blood or mucus.
Nurses who work in hospitals and care for patients are at extremely high risk.
This disease is not accompanied by symptoms and has no effect on fertility. The only problem is the disease during pregnancy and the fact that it cannot be treated (the virus enters latency and can be activated at any time).
The disease is transmitted to the child. Most children have no problems, but one in seven may suffer from brain disorders.
If there is a risk of illness then it is advisable to do some tests before conceiving a child.
If the exam is negative, you should be careful not to get the virus during pregnancy.
Anatomical distortion caused by endometriosis, especially when it is moderate and severe, could explain a mechanical cause of infertility, the exact mechanism by which minimal and mild endometriosis affects fertility is not fully understood.
Endometriosis may adversely affect egg development, sperm binding to the egg, fertilization, tubal function, and embryo implantation.
Parvovirus is an infectious-contagious disease that is transmitted orally. Many people have been treated and become immune, but if the disease occurs during pregnancy it can have very serious effects on the fetus: the virus attacks the red blood cells of the child, killing it. There is not yet a vaccine for this reason so it is important to be treated early.
This parasite does not affect fertility and is not transmitted to the child if you have developed immunity before pregnancy. If you are at risk of getting sick then it is good to do a few tests before conceiving a child.
Infested babies suffer from serious eye or lung disease. In some cases, they die shortly after birth.
Infections of the uterine tract
These infections have serious consequences on pregnancy causing premature birth.
If you have been vaccinated in childhood or have already had this disease it is impossible to contact her. If not, it is best to consult a doctor before conceiving a baby because there may be chances of getting sick during pregnancy.
Rubella is dangerous for the baby: it can cause blindness or serious brain damage. Another effect is miscarriage.
If your blood test shows that you do not have antibodies then your doctor should give you a vaccine. The inoculated substance contains active viruses and for this reason there is a danger of being transmitted to the fetus.
Although there are no studies in this regard, doctors recommend a 3 month break until the baby is conceived.
A recent experiment shows that babies born to rubella mothers, who were given this vaccine after birth, suffer from autism.
A basic theory is that the virus can be transmitted by breastfeeding and can affect the baby. Another study shows that babies who are vaccinated shortly after birth suffer from the same problem.
It is best to make this vaccine well before you conceive a baby.
Like rubella, chickenpox is a disease that occurs only once, and the body then becomes immune. If you have not had this disease, consult a doctor before conceiving a baby. He will give you a vaccine.
Remember that only 2% of children whose mothers became infected with chickenpox during pregnancy have brain disorders. If you have had a vaccine, it is recommended a period of one month before the child is conceived.
Do you know of any other diseases that affect fertility? Share your ideas in the comment section below!
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