Medical conditions that cause Infertility in Males & Females

There are various medical conditions that can cause infertility which include:

  • Diabetes
  • Pituitary gland disease
  • Hypothalamus disorder
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Chlamydia
  • Prostatitis
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Hypogonadism
  • Mumps

There are two types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2 which are both to do with abnormally high levels in sugar in the bloodstream. Type 1 starts in childhood and is where the body is unable to produce any insulin.

Type 2 affects mainly older people and is where the body is unable to produce enough insulin. It is also known as ‘insulin-dependant’ diabetes.

How does this relate to infertility? A body of research has shown that there is a link between diabetes and male infertility. It appears to be the case that sperm produced by a man with diabetes are more damaged than those from a non-diabetic.

These damaged sperm are unable to fertilise an egg which leads to problems with conceiving.

Further studies are needed in order to determine the extent of the problem but it does seem to suggest that this will be a major cause of male infertility in the future.

Pituitary gland disease is classed as a hormonal problem and one of the many causes of male infertility. If it fails to send the correct signals to activate the testes then testosterone levels will drop which affects sperm production.

The hypothalamus is responsible for testosterone production but problems with this can reduce testosterone levels which directly impacts upon fertility levels.

Multiple sclerosis is a condition which affects myelin – the protective coating on nerve fibres which enable messages to be transmitted from the brain to the rest of the body. This myelin becomes damaged which then affects these messages.

In respect of male fertility, the layer of myelin on the nerves which control sexual response become damaged which disrupts this response, leading to problems with erection and ejaculation.

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) which has come to our attention in recent years. It is most prevalent in young people and is a major area of concern for experts as it can have long term effects. And one of these effects is infertility.

It affects the quantity, shape and movement of sperm which damages male fertility.

Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland which can cause permanent infertility if left untreated. Symptoms of this include painful ejaculation and urination.

Cushing’s syndrome is a hormonal disorder which is caused by excessive levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and is responsible for a variety of functions which include: regulating blood pressure and the immune system, controlling blood sugar levels and an appropriate response to stress (‘fight or flight’).

But too much cortisol causes a whole range of problems which include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Obesity
  • Water retention (around the ankles)
  • Reduced libido (and reduced fertility)
  • High blood pressure
  • Aches and pains
  • Excess thirst
  • Mood swings

Reduced libido (or lack of a sex drive) is likely to affect your sexual performance and ability to conceive.

Hypogonadism is a condition which can occur as a result of an injury or disease to the pituitary glands, hypothalamus or testicles. It can decrease the levels of the hormone gonadotrophin which in turn, lowers testosterone levels.

Lowered testosterone levels inhibit sperm production and may cause erectile dysfunction.

Mumps is a common childhood illness which usually causes no long term effects but, complications do happen. It is especially problematic for adult men as it can infect the testicles, causing orchitis which may cause sterility.

Around 20 to 30% cases of men with mumps experience orchitis. Symptoms of this include tenderness, swelling and a fever and it tends to occur a week after the outbreak of the disease.

Other general medical conditions which cause infertility include kidney disease, cancer, high blood pressure, stroke and coronary heart disease.

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