When it comes to conceiving a child, many adults all over the world feel frustration and sadness when they don’t get a positive result. But, struggling to conceive doesn’t mean that there’s something “wrong” with your body! In fact, it’s estimated that over 3.5 million adults in the UK are infertile, so it may be a more commonly-experienced condition than you think.
However, you may be surprised to learn that infertility can run in families. This means that your success rates of conceiving naturally can be similar to that of your parents or siblings.
We understand that infertility can seem like the end of something, but through our patient and informative approach to treatments, we can show you that there are many options to help you with your journey to parenthood.
In this guide, we’ve shared the fertility tests that you can use to determine if your infertility is hereditary, and the possible reasons behind not being able to conceive naturally:
What is subfertility?
There is a slight difference between subfertility and infertility.
Subfertility is the failure to conceive after one year of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. Infertility is when the cause for the failure to conceive has been diagnosed by a professional.
We know that both these situations can be frustrating things for anyone to experience, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll never be a parent.
There are many reasons why a man or woman may be subfertile or infertile. Some of the most common include conditions such as infections, sperm problems, blocked tubes, hormone imbalances or reactions to medicines, although chromosome abnormalities are a leading cause of hereditary infertility.
So, is infertility hereditary? Not always. This is because there are hundreds of potential reasons behind why a person may be infertile – including secondary unexplained infertility, whereby you are struggling to have a brother or sister for your child. It tends to be difficult to explicitly say whether the ability to conceive is passed from parents to their children.
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How is hereditary infertility diagnosed?
As a woman, if you suspect that you may be infertile or are struggling to conceive naturally, one of our fertility specialists will be able to conduct a thorough investigation of your ovaries and womb to put your mind at ease.
In a male fertility test, sperm analysis and an investigation of the sperm tubes will be completed. If there are no issues present in either of these fertility tests, your specialist may suggest looking into your family history to see if any patterns could have repeated.
Reasons for hereditary infertility
It’s important to remember that there is no infertility gene, and it cannot explicitly be said that every parent who is infertile passes the condition through their DNA.
In cases where infertility is passed from parents to children, certain conditions can be hereditary. These conditions may cause the sufferer to become infertile, which is one of the lead causes of hereditary infertility. Some of these include:
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Certain studies have discovered that problems with a woman’s ovary can be inherited from her mother. This includes PCOS, a condition that affects how their ovaries work that could lead to irregular periods and lack of ovulation.
PCOS is one of the most common reasons behind women who are having difficulties with conceiving, but fertility treatments are able to help PCOS sufferers to become pregnant.
A condition where the tissue lining the womb is present outside the womb. Endometriosis is another potential reason behind hereditary infertility. This is because the condition can be passed from mother to daughter, with a side effect being that the woman struggles to conceive.
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Another reason behind a genetic cause of male infertility is Klinefelter’s syndrome; a condition whereby men have an extra X chromosome that is passed from their father. It is one of the most common chromosomal disorder for men all over the world, and affects approximately one in 650 men.
Men who suffer with Klinefelter’s syndrome are more likely to struggle to conceive.
Which infertility problems do not run in families?
Whilst many hereditary conditions have infertility as a symptom, you should keep in mind that unfortunately, many adults struggle to conceive, even if their biological parents haven’t suffered with the issue themselves.
This is because infertility factors such as poor egg quality, blocked sperm tubes and damaged fallopian tubes can occur in any adult, meaning that you may struggle to conceive even if your parent didn’t.
If you’re struggling to conceive and suspect that you may be infertile, it’s best to discuss your options with a fertility specialist. A series of investigations for women and men can be arranged at our centre to assess the fertility potential and to diagnose fertility problems.