If you have been having regular, unprotected intercourse for 12 months and have not become pregnant, you or your partner may be infertile. Infertility is quite common - one in eight couples researchers say, although a recent medical doctor survey put the figure rather lower, at 3.3 per cent of 35-year-olds - and in most cases cam be traced to a specific problem in the woman or the man. The problem increases with age.
May be due to damage to the uterus (from infection or fibroids), to retroversion of the uterus (see Uterus Problems), or to the presence of a wall or septum in the uterus, a congenital defect; mucus produced by the cervix may be too viscous for the sperm to penetrate or it may contain antibodies which kill the sperm; one or both Fallopian tubes may be blocked, as the result of gonorrhoea (see Sexually Transmitted Diseases), endometriosis (see Uterus Problems), or Tuberculosis; one or both ovaries may be affected by Ovarian Cysts or endometriosis, and fail to produce the necessary hormones; or chronic ill health, Stress or emotional trauma may depress production of follicle stimulating hormone by the hypothalamus and so prevent eggs maturing in the ovaries.
Investigation will be by physical examination initially, at which time a full medical history will be taken; you may also be asked to keep a temperature chart - a slight rise in temperature in mid-cycle indicates that ovulation is occurring. If ovulation is not the problem, the next step is to take a sample of semen from your cervix shortly after intercourse to see what effect your cervical mucus has on the sperm. If this is not the problem you will be given blood tests to check hormone levels, followed by X-rays and a small operation to see if your Fallopian tubes and ovaries are normal.
Specific remedies to be taken every 12 hours for up to 7 while waiting for constitutional treatment
- Breasts tender, with areas of hard swelling, desire for sex suppressed for some reason Conium 30c
- Tenderness in lower abdomen over right ovary, dry vagina Lycopodium 30c
- Previous miscarriages before 12 weeks Sabina 30c
- Irregular periods, womb feels as if it is about to drop out of vagina, feeling chilly, weepy, and irritable, aversion to sex Sepia 30c
If a pituitary problem has been diagnosed, take Agnus 6c up to 3 times daily for 3 weeks out of 4 (if your periods are regular, stop during the week of your period).
May be due to a low sperm count (causes include mumps, too much heat around testicles, varicocele, steroids, drugs, alcohol, excessive smoking, lead or carbon-monoxide poisoning, and X-rays), or sperms may be deformed or unable to swim vigorously; testicles or vas deferentia may be damaged by gonorrhoea or syphilis; stress, overwork, tiredness, and psychological factors can cause Ejaculation Problems.
Diagnosis is by physical examination and history taking; a sample of semen will be needed to check sperm numbers and quality; if no sperm are found, a testicular biopsy (analysis of a small sample of tissue the testes) may be necessary.
Specific remedies to be taken every 12 hours for up to 7 days while waiting for constitutional treatment
- Ineffectual erection, lack of energy, absentmindedness Agnus 30c
- Inability to sustain erection, cramp and coldness in legs Conium 30c
- Increased desire for sex but intercourse spoiled by anticipation of failure, general insecurity Lycopodium 30c
- Dragging sensation in genitals, no desire for sex Sepia 30c
Self-help: If infertility is due to a low sperm count, try to abstain from intercourse in the week leading up to ovulation; this will allow sperm numbers to build up, increasing the chances of conception. Try using Persona to predict your ovulation time. Use egg white rather than KY-jelly as a lubricant; cut down on work and stop smoking. There is some evidence that adopting the missionary position with the woman remaining still for 20 minutes after sex may increase chances of conception. Try for your ideal weight; avoid over-exercising; avoid douches; cut down on caffeine, do not use anabolic steroids. Eat organic food and take Vitamin E.
Orthodox treatment of infertility is by drugs - to ensure ovulation, increase sperm production, boost certain hormones and suppress others. There are also various implantation techniques. Occasionally, such drugs result in multiple pregnancy. Some abnormalities can be corrected by surgery. Otherwise, the options are artificial insemination or test-tube fertilization, both of which require careful thought, and considerable effort and commitment.
Before embarking on orthodox treatment, the author advises nutritional therapy and constitutional homeopathic treatment.