Infertility is said to exist if a couple has been having regular sexual intercourse without the use of contraceptives for more than a year and the woman has not become pregnant. About one in seven couples in the developed world have infertility problems; 30 percent because of the male, 30 percent because of the female, and 40 percent due to both.
• Inability to conceive a child despite having regular sexual intercourse without the use of contraceptives.
Causes Male infertility is usually due to a low sperm count, which may be the result of physiological problems, taking drugs, or environmental factors; malformed sperm; or the inability of sperm to reach the egg. It may also be caused by problems in the testicles or vas deferens, often the result of sexually transmitted disease; or malformation of the testes due to an endocrine (glandular) disorder. Erectile dysfunction or ejaculatory problems may also result in infertility, and this situation may be aggravated by stress, overwork, tiredness, or psychological problems. The most common cause of female infertility is failure to produce eggs. This may be the result of a hormonal disorder, stress, problems with the ovaries such as cysts, damaged fallopian tubes caused by pelvic inflammatory disease, or uterine abnormalities such as fibroids. The cervical mucus may be too stringy for sperm to get through, or it may contain antibodies that kill sperm. Rarely, defective chromosomes are responsible.
Provided there are no physiological problems, constitutional treatment will try to rectify imbalances in the body systems controlling reproduction. Remedies are determined largely by an individual’s symptoms (see page 18). In men, Aurum met. is indicated for childhood atrophy of the testes or painful, swollen testicles; and Causticum for infertility associated with testicular pain or blood in the spermatic fluid. In women, Nat. carb. is prescribed for the nonretention of semen; and Sepia when infertility results from a hormonal imbalance and an aversion to sexual intercourse. Although not strictly an infertility problem, Sabina is effective for recurrent miscarriage in early pregnancy. Specific local remedies for men include
Agnus castus, for erectile dysfunction and a lack of energy; Conium, for erectile dysfunction, with cramps and cold legs; and Lycopodium, when there is increased sexual desire, but intercourse is spoiled by the anticipation of the failure to conceive. Conium is prescribed for women when infertility is associated with breast tenderness and suppressed sexual desire; and Lycopodium when there is lower abdominal tenderness and vaginal dryness.