Infertility: Who’s Fault Is It Anyway?

Josiah Onyenekwe December 21, 2011

There are common misconceptions in various African cultures, about women and fertility. In some parts of Africa women are seen as solely responsible for determining the sex of the child and a “disgrace” if they do not conceive during the first few years of their marriage.

What people do not realize is that not only does the act of conceiving a child necessitate both a man a woman (in most instances) but the chances of conceiving a child and how many or what gender that child may be is not all influenced by the woman. In fact, the male, his genetic make-up and “baby-making” equipment, are major deciding factors.

What exactly is infertility?

Infertility is defined as the inability for a woman less than 35 years of age to conceive within a year of regular sexual intercourse without the use of contraception. In woman over the age of 35 it is within 6 months.

If a couple fails to conceive during this time period a medical evaluation is warranted for both the female and male partner. The probability of achieving a live birth in 1 menstrual cycle, called fecundability, in a normal couple, having frequent intercourse (2-3 times per a week) is 20-25% in the first 3 months and 85-90% within the 1st year.

When it comes to the inability to conceive, who is at "fault?"

The causes of infertility are shared between both sexes. It can be attributed to men 33% of the time, females 33%, and both 33%.

Below are the most frequent causes of a couple’s inability to conceive:

1. Missed or absent menses (period)
2. Problems with the female reproductive tract anatomy ie: bilateral tubal obstruction
3. Semen characteristics ie: azoospermia (no sperm in the ejaculate).
4. Sometimes there are unexplained causes.

Who decides the gender of the baby?

Men determine the gender of the baby 100 percent of the time. Women have only one gene (X-Infertility: Who's Fault Is It Anyway?chromosome) that they can contribute to determining the sex of the baby, while men have Two, (X- or Y-chromosome).  If a man happens to contribute an X-chromosome to the woman’s X then it is a girl. If he contributes a Y then it is a boy. 

Patience is key when trying to conceive a child. If infertility is suspected, couples should seek medical evaluation for both partners to identify the underlying problem(s).

There are numerous technological advancements that have been made in the areas of fertility and embryology. Numerous therapies are available, including intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization that can correct or overcome the problems associated with infertility. In some instance no therapy is needed and couples conceive when they least expect it. The important thing to remember is that with all of the research and medicine there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the conception of a child. In many instances no one is at fault, so there is no point in placing the blame on anyone.

Click here for more information about infertility, causes and treatments.

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Last Edited by: Updated: September 12, 2018


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