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Infertility is when a woman can’t get pregnant after trying for a year if she is younger than 35 or six months if she is older than 35. Infertility can also refer to women who get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant. In the US, infertility affects around 10 of women between the ages of 15 to 44.
What is Infertility?
Pregnancy is the result of a process that consists of many steps. One of the ovaries releases an egg that travels through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. Along the way, it gets fertilized by a sperm cell. The fertilized egg then attaches to the lining of the uterus where it is maintained and fed.
If you are infertile, it means that there may be problems with any of the steps in the process. The most common problems that lead to infertility has to do with ovulation. Ovulation is when one of the ovaries releases an egg and it is the most basic requirement for pregnancy. When you have problems with ovulation, you may stop menstruating or your menstrual cycle may be irregular. One of the biggest causes of this is polycystic ovarian syndrome. Other conditions that can cause infertility is pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis that can block the fallopian tubes or uterine fibroids.
Risk Factors of Infertility
There are various things that can influence your infertility. These include lifestyle factors like smoking, unhealthy eating habits, or being over- or underweight. Consistently high-stress levels and excessive drinking can also influence your ability to get pregnant.
Physiological factors include hormone imbalances that cause polycystic ovarian syndrome and age can also diminish your fertility.
When to Seek Treatment?
If you are under 35 years of age, you should seek medical help if you have been trying to get pregnant for longer than a year. If you are over the age of 35, you can seek medical help after 6 months.
The first thing that your health care provider will do is to determine if you ovulate every month. You can do this yourself, by keeping a record of your menstrual cycle or by buying a home ovulation test kit. Your healthcare provider can also check regularity of your ovaries by means of a blood test or by doing an ultrasound of your ovaries. The treatments options that are available to you depend on where in the fertility process you are experiencing problems and for how long you have been experiencing these problems.
Infertility Treatment Options
As an infertile woman, you may need one or more of the mainstream infertility treatments that are available. They include fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation, intrauterine insemination, and surgery to restore fertility.
This treatment is the most common since it induces and maintains ovulation. Problems with ovulation are the most common cause of infertility, so chances are that you will be able to restore your fertility with this method of treatment. Although this treatment is relatively convenient, there are risk factors involved and it is important that you contact your healthcare provider for a thorough examination and consultation.
This is when sperm is placed directly inside the uterus. For this treatment to be effective, this procedure has to take place at the same time as ovulation. If you have problems with ovulation or blocked fallopian tubes, this treatment may not be effective.
Fertility Restoring Surgery
Hysteroscopic surgery can treat conditions such as endometrial polyps, a uterine septum, or intrauterine scar tissue. This treatment may be regarded as a last resort, depending on your medical background and condition. Contact your medical service provider to discuss your options.