Almost every woman looks forward to that time in her life when she will have and hold a child of her own, but if you are one of the estimated 10 to 15 percent of women who have been unable to become pregnant or take a pregnancy to term, you are not alone.
Most doctors would say that you have fertility problems if you and your partner have been having unprotected sex for more than a year and still have not conceived a child.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development estimates that 20 percent of women, including 19 percent of teenagers, will have at least one major episode of fertility problems by the time they are 34. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, you probably want to know how to treat female infertility when you go through this kind of experience.
Problems with fertility can be a single issue or a combination of issues; however, if you have ruled out your partner, you might want to consider seeing a specialist who can suggest any number of therapies that can improve your chances of becoming pregnant.
They may be able to help you obtain treatments that have been shown to be highly effective in managing female infertility. The results of a comprehensive blood examination are also used in more than a third of the cases where female fertility is significantly affected. This is because it is possible to find several hormonal imbalances related to certain areas of your reproductive system and then to prescribe a hormone therapy that addresses them.
Typical Symptoms of Infertility
Besides the obvious one of not becoming pregnant, some women have irregular periods, absent but then returning periods, or possibly unwanted hair growth on the face or body.
Otherwise, most women have no symptoms, other than the heartbreak of not conceiving a child month after month.
When to See a Doctor
Although finding out that you are pregnant is exciting, there is no need to see a doctor unless you have been trying to conceive for at least 12 consecutive months.
However, if you experience any of the following, you might want to speak to your doctor sooner:
- If you are over 40
- If you are 35 to 40 years old and have been trying to get pregnant for 6 months
- If your periods are extremely painful
- Your periods are irregular or they stop for several months at a time
- If you have had multiple miscarriages
- If you have had treatment for cancer
- If you have known fertility problems
- If you have been diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease
- If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis
Whenever it comes to family planning and fertility, a lot depends on the woman and her experience. First and foremost, remember that female fertility is a function of multiple hormonal, physical, and social factors.
This means that your skills and experience vary greatly and may not work in every case. If you’re experiencing a number of symptoms, like late menopause, thinning hair, swelling of the ovaries or thinning of the uterus, anemia, abdominal pain, or a headache, it may be time for a check-up. Even if a few of the symptoms are gone, consider seeing your gynecologist to find out what your special health care needs might be.
While a doctor may be able to help you with any health concerns you have about fertility, they may also want to talk to you about the health risks associated with pregnancy and the kind of care you should be receiving.
Keep in mind that all the steps towards becoming pregnant have to be present in order for a sperm to successfully fertilize an egg. Moreover, the possibility of getting pregnant is also dependent on the quality of male sperm like sperm motility and sperm density for the guy in question.
Typical Causes of Female Infertility
- Pelvic Adhesions: (such as scar tissue after an infection or surgery)
- Ovulation Disorders: Including Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism or other hormone disorders which can affect ovulation.
- Endometriosis: When endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus, it can affect the function of all other parts of the reproductive system.
- Early Menopause: Sometimes the ovaries stop working and early menopause occurs before a woman is 40.
- Fallopian Tube Issues: Fallopian tubes transport the eggs to the uterus. Any blocked or damaged tubes prevent the egg from leaving the ovaries.
- Cervical or Uterine Issues: The cervix should have no abnormalities nor should there be polyps in the uterus, or an abnormal shape, fibroid tumors in the uterus can all cause problems with fertility.
- Cancer or Cancer Treatments: Both chemotherapy and radiation can affect fertility.
- Other Medical Issues: Smoking, excessive alcohol use, delayed puberty, celiac disease, lupus, and genetic abnormalities can all make it difficult to become pregnant.
If you believe that any of the above conditions apply to you, see your gynecologist.
Female Infertility Risk Factors
There are factors that can contribute to female infertility. These include: polycystic ovarian disease, endometriosis, varicose veins of the uterine tubes, uterine fibroid, adhesions and endometrial polyps. There may also be conditions which predispose a woman to infertility, such as systemic conditions, poor lifestyle choices and exposure to toxins.
Some of the systemic conditions which can contribute to female infertility include: lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, polycystic ovary disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, anemia and asthma. These systemic conditions can also make it harder to become pregnant, even if the woman has ovaries which are otherwise healthy.
Other lifestyle choices which can make it harder to become pregnant for women include: smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not getting enough physical exercise, not eating a healthy diet and not getting enough sleep.
In rare cases, conditions such as hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease, pituitary tumors and adrenal tumors may directly affect fertility.
If you’re suffering from low or high blood pressure, thyroid disease, diabetes, thyroid cancer or other conditions that can affect your body’s ability to produce enough hormones or respond to hormones, your doctor may want to take a closer look. If you’ve been told you have low fertility, or if your health conditions could affect your fertility, ask your doctor to suggest steps you can take to increase your chances of conceiving.
The best way to increase your chances of becoming pregnant is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as a healthy diet and regular exercise. If you’re considering using fertility treatments, it’s a good idea to have a baseline fertility checkup with your doctor.