Diseases that make you infertile demonstrate the interconnected relationships of different systems within your body. Pregnancy is an enormously stressful event for a woman's body. Anything that compromises a woman's health can potentially harm her baby. In some cases, infertility shows there is a condition occurring within a woman's body that will prevent a successful pregnancy.
Causes of Infertility
Both men and women can be infertile. It is not strictly a "woman's problem." Underlying causes have several sources. According to the Mayo Clinic, both men and woman share the cause of infertility, with other cases involving unknown or a combination of factors.
Female Reproductive Disorders
Hormone levels exist in a delicate balance within the body. Disorders that interfere with your body's state of equilibrium can cause infertility. Both male and female hormones occur within a woman's body. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) describes a disease where there is an overproduction of male hormones and underproduction of ollicle stimulating hormone. Rather than maturing, eggs become cysts due to damaged follicles within the ovary. The decrease in ovulating eggs results in female infertility.
Other conditions affecting the pituitary gland are among the diseases that can make you infertile. You may not readily associate the pituitary gland as a factor in pregnancy; however, it plays an important role in your ovulation cycle. Hormones released stimulate ovulation. Any condition that affects their production can cause irregular or absent periods. Without ovulation, you cannot become pregnant. Tumors are a common cause of pituitary gland hormonal imbalances.
Cancer of Reproductive Organs
Male infertility can have complex causes, ranging from congenital disorders to childhood diseases to hormonal causes. Many of these conditions cause infertility by lowering a man's sperm count and thus the chances that fertilization will occur. In the same way, diseases that interfere with a woman's ability to ovulate also cause infertility.
Testicular cancer is a treatable disease that attacks young men most often between the ages of 15 to 34. Infertility results when immature sperm cells mutate and become cancerous. Treatment options include surgery and chemotherapy, both of which can cause infertility.
As with testicular cancer, your chances of recovery from ovarian cancer are best if the disease is detected and treated early, before it has spread to other organs. This cancer attacks the ovaries, the site of egg production in women. Most often, doctors opt for surgery and removal of the female productive organs as the best treatment option. Chemotherapy and radiation may also cause infertility. Ironically, infertile woman may be at increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Other Unrelated Conditions
Conditions that may seem to have nothing to do with pregnancy can also cause infertility. Diabetes is one example. One complication resulting from diabetes is retrograde ejaculation. In this case, sperm is not ejaculated from the penis but rather goes into the bladder.
Celiac disease, an allergic condition to wheat, is another example of a seemingly unrelated condition that can hamper sperm production and fertility. Recent studies have shown links between spontaneous abortion in women and testicular dysfunction in men.
Diseases That Make You Infertile
Childhood diseases are another cause of infertility. It can be difficult to accept sometimes that having the mumps can affect your ability to have children later in life. It's because these diseases occur during the developing years where potential exists for them to affect your adult life. In men, complications from the mumps can cause orchitis, an inflammation of the testicles. In some cases, orchitis infects the testicles so severely that one or both may cease to function, resulting in male infertility.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs, represent another cause of infertility in both men and women. Chlamydia is a bacterial disease that affects either sex. Like other conditions, it may or may not have obvious symptoms, increasing its potential for further complications. Untreated chlamydia can spread to a woman's uterus and fallopian tubes. Left untreated, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to permanent damage of the uterus, ovaries, and other reproductive structure, resulting in infertility.
For men, the fertility risks are equally as great. The potential exists for chlamydia to spread to the epididymis or the tube that delivers sperm from the testes. It is also the site of sperm maturation. Damage to the epididymis can impair sperm growth and interfere with sperm leaving the man's body during ejaculation. Severe cases can cause infertility in men.
Pregnancy requires the best of health for you and your baby. Regular checkups that include screening for conditions such as diabetes and chlamydia are ways you can catch problems before they cause infertility. If you are considering pregnancy, consult with your doctor regarding any other tests that may be necessary. Many causes of infertility can be treated, especially if caught early.