Infertility is the inability to get pregnant after a year of unprotected intercourse. About 10 per cent of couples in the United States are affected by infertility. Both men and women can be infertile. According to the Centre for Disease Control, one third of the time the diagnosis is due to female infertility, one third of the time it is linked to male infertility and the remaining cases of infertility are due to a combination of factors from both partners.
For approximately 20 per cent of couples, the cause cannot be determined (unexplained infertility). Consequently, the WHO meeting has now made clear definitions for male infertility and for female infertility distinct from each other.
There is a worldwide emotional epidemic of infertility. As of today, 25 per cent of couples are infertile. Even in India, which has a very large population, the most common reason for a visit to the doctor is infertility. In Nigeria, infertility, which used to be a small area of gynaecology practice has now become a huge discipline with several doctors devoting their clinic solely to the practice of infertility.
During the last conference of the Nigerian Association of Fertility and Reproductive Health and the African Fertility Society on September 24, the number of IVF clinics in Nigeria was close to 50.
Continue reading after the cut.....The number of IVF clinics in Africa is near 150, and in comparison, the number of clinics in Chicago alone is over 60. It is clear that Nigeria is now recognised worldwide as part of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) providers. It is noteworthy that many countries still do not have the ability to provide ART services.
Human ability of getting pregnant decreases with age, which explains why only one per cent of teenagers are infertile while a majority of infertile couples are in their 30s. It is well documented that from our teen years when the last thing we want is a child, to our mid 30s when we are finally secure enough to start our family, our ability to conceive decreases almost by 25 per cent.
Research shows that in the past 30 years, infertility has increased and those over the age of 30 have the most problems.
If you are in your 30s and have been working to establish yourself in your profession, thinking maybe that in a few years you might like to start a family, you should realise that there is a 25 per cent chance you will not be able to do so without medical intervention. It is for this reason that the definition of infertility includes a person of age 35 years who has not been able to achieve pregnancy within six months of attempt at conception.
Other factors that may make it difficult for you to get pregnant include abnormal organs, immunological factors and other malfunctioning of the body system. The dramatic increase in infertility over the last 30 years borders on factors, such as sexual transmitted diseases, environmental toxins in our food, environmental pollution, particularly in the oil producing geographical zones, declining sperm counts from absorption of toxic substances and even the increased tension and anxiety of the modern life.
In all other animals except humans, the desire to have sexual intercourse is timed to correspond to that moment when the female is ovulating or producing eggs that can be fertilised.
Take for instance a dog or a rabbit. Once the female is ovulating, she seeks out the male and after intercourse; the female is usually pregnant with multiple pregnancies. Humans, however desire to have sex at anytime regardless of whether there is an egg that can be fertilised in the woman and it makes us reproductively more inefficient than other animals.
We know that in all species, there is a very short window during each month that the female is fertile and can get pregnant with intercourse. The timing of sex is therefore very important if a species is to have an efficient and high fertility rate.
In humans, women go through a period of 14 days when the follicle in the ovary develops. This starts from the day one of the menstruation until the egg is sufficiently mature and ready for ovulation. Once the egg is released at ovulation, there is another 14 days period that it can be fertilised. If intercourse occurs at the right time, then the embryo grows and implants in the uterus, or womb. If intercourse occurs at another time other than the ovulating period, it is very unlikely that the woman will get pregnant in that cycle /month.
Animals go through an “estrus” cycle or “heat.” Humans go through a menstrual cycle. Apart from other hormonal variations, one significant difference between humans and animals is that the female sex hormone, estrogen, which increases just before ovulation in animals is the trigger factor for their sex drive. This hormone is responsible for producing eggs. In other words, animals do not desire to have sex unless there is an egg to be fertilised in the female’s womb. In humans, sex desire is much more complex and is not driven by the female sex hormone estrogen, but by the male sex hormone testosterone.
To be continued
Culled - Oladapo Ashiru/Punch
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