When you first are diagnosed with infertility one of the first things that runs through your mind is how it has happened. For many, it begins a process of elimination of environmental factors, age, and then family history. For many, if there has been a family member who has had trouble conceiving, it is only natural to worry that you may also have issues when you decide to start your own family. The answer to the question is not a simple one however. While there can be inherited factors that make conception difficult, most issues are not genetically based, but physiologically based.
Infertility Issues and Chromosome Abnormalities
If your family has a history of premature menopause, or if endometriosis seems to run in the family, then you may be at a slightly increased risk for infertility or trouble conceiving. Most of these issues can be completely compensated for, however, through the use of several very good fertility medications.
Chromosomal abnormalities can occur within families and produce embryos that have a missing chromosome, a chromosome that is inverted, a mutated DNA sequence, or the wrong number of chromosomes all together. Most of these types of pregnancies that occur result in miscarriage. In these cases many couples opt for an egg donor program or IVF treatment to select the best and healthiest embryo. The good news is that only 5 % of the population has these types of inherited genetic diseases. Most of these abnormalities are caught early through the use of PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) prior to IVF.
Infertility that is Not Genetic
For the most part infertility and problems conceiving are not inherited or genetic in nature. There are a number of causes for infertility. One of the larger culprits is endometriosis which is when the uterine tissue occurs in other places rather than inside of the uterus. This can be fixed through surgery. Sometimes the cause for endometriosis is inherited, but a larger percentage of the cases presented are not the result of something that was inherited.
One of the other reasons that a woman will fail to become pregnant is that the quality of the eggs produced is low. This, again, is not an inherited factor. And having a low egg count is not necessarily something that would be passed down to any of her offspring. Again, low egg count won’t keep a woman from becoming pregnant if she is really determined to have a family of her own as there are numerous fertility meds on the market, and even IVF treatments, IVF drugs, that will assist in the egg production, maturation process, and implantation of the fertilized embryo.
Sometimes women have trouble with regular ovulation, which can be inherited, but only in a small percentage of women. PCOS, for example, is a type of ovulation problem that can be inherited, but just as often no one in the family had it before. The jury is still out on that one.
Can Male Infertility Be Inherited?
Low sperm count, or poor motility issues are not usually inherited at all. Where male infertility is concerned, it is mostly a lifestyle factor that has given rise to the impact on the sperm. For men, the culprit is often ill fitting underwear, injury to the area, stress, or working around industrial metals or chemicals.
Getting a Proper Diagnosis for Infertility
Most couples who have tried for a year without success will need to see a specialist to begin determining what the factors are that are causing the infertility. In most instances this can be reversed with simple procedures and fertility medications. Having a family is still very much an option even after a diagnosis of infertility. In the end, while some genetic factors can come into play where infertility is concerned, most of the underlying causes are not inherited at all.