Understanding infertility

As the organization for Canada’s infertility doctors, the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) is on the front lines of diagnosing then helping our patients deal with the effects of infertility.

Dr Matt Gysler, President of the CFAS, says almost all the people who are struggling with the inability to conceive have the same question.

“They want to know why. Each one of our members who meet patients - the reproductive endocrinologists, fertility nurses, specialized counselors – work with patients to get an answer to this question."

Different causes

The answer, of course, is often not straightforward. For a baby to be conceived the intricate and delicate process of ovulation and fertilization needs to be exactly right. Despite people’s best efforts and fervent desires, this doesn’t always happen.

For both men and women, infertility can result from a variety of medical conditions or lifestyle choices.

CFAS recommends that a woman or a couple unable to conceive visit their family doctor for a referral to a specialist who will do a fertility evaluation.

”If a couple suspects they have fertility issues then we advise them to act quickly,” says the CFAS’ Matt Gysler. “The sooner reproductive specialists meet with them to assess the situation the better their chances to conceive.”

Common causes of infertility

In women:

  • Age (women are less fertile as they get older)
  • Sexually transmitted
  • infections
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Damaged ovaries
  • Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
  • Endometriosis (cells from the womb growing outside the womb)
  • Ovulation disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Congenital diseases like cystic fibrosis
  • Excessive exercise (leading to missed menstrual periods)

In Men:

  • Hormone disturbance
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Smoking
  • Overheating of the testicles caused by tight clothing, exercise, hot water, excessive sitting (truck drivers)
  • Abnormal sperm production or function due to problems such as undescended testicles, genetic defects or health problems such as diabetes or mumps
  • Problems with the delivery of sperm due to premature ejaculation, cystic fibrosis or injury
  • Cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy


Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society