Struggling to conceive can be heartbreaking, especially if it’s been confirmed by medical professionals that there is indeed a struggle present. Infertility is classified as the inability to become pregnant after a year of trying through regular intercourse. After the age of 35, it only takes six months of trying before it is considered a fertility issue. Approximately 13% of American couples will struggle with infertility; the onus is, in general, equally distributed between men and women.
How do You Know if You’re Infertile?
If you believe you are struggling with infertility, speak to your doctor about a medical exam. Your physician will ask some questions about your sexual life and may also inquire about eating and sleeping habits. Following a pelvic exam and ovulation test to check for progesterone levels, your doctor may check hormone levels through a blood test so see if there are enough eggs remaining for a successful pregnancy.
Some tests tell the doctor specific information about your body and problems that may be preventing pregnancy from occurring. For example, if there is a problem with a fallopian tube, such as a blockage, there is a test that can determine whether the egg is stuck and unable to advance. If a blockage is suspected, a scope may be used to see where problems are occurring. X-rays and ultrasounds are also common.
Why Am I Infertile?
While there isn’t always an answer to this question, there are some contributing factors that can increase the chances of infertility. Lifestyle choices such as alcohol intake, cigarette smoking, or recreational drugs can greatly impact whether your body is able to conceive. Obesity, stress, and illness, such as diabetes, can also cause delays in conception.
Some physical reasons your pregnancy goals aren’t being fulfilled include a blockage in your fallopian tubes or ovarian cysts. These issues make it difficult for the egg to be released and for the sperm to reach and fertilize the egg without obstruction.
What to do about Infertility
There’s no magic pill to fix infertility, but there are certainly treatments which can lessen the problems causing infertility to occur. For example, lifestyle-related causes such as smoking, drinking, or obesity, can be curbed by making healthier choices. Stress can be treated through therapy or with medication, depending on the severity of the anxiety.
If the cause of infertility is physical, your doctor and you will need to decide on a plan of action based on the facts. A blockage or ovarian cysts may be removed, and medication can help increase the chances of a normal period of ovulation. However, even with these options, not all women receiving fertility treatment will be able to conceive. This is when IVF comes in handy.
In vitro fertilization works through the extraction of eggs and sperm, and manual fertilization in a laboratory. Once an embryo forms, it can be implanted in a healthy uterus to develop naturally until the birthing process. Not all embryos used in IVF will be successful, but many women do go on to have normal pregnancies and deliveries following the treatment.
If you are considering IVF, speak to your partner and your doctor. Get all the facts about the procedure and what follows before making your decision. Before trying IVF, your doctor might suggest you try other things such as changing your diet, supplementing vitamins, becoming more physically active, losing weight, or quitting bad habits. If your doctor feels that IVF is a good fit for your needs, he or she will offer some information on the process and how to proceed.