Deciding to start a family can be an exciting and nerve-wracking process for many couples. But for many families, getting pregnant isn’t always as easy as it seems. There are many conditions that can affect a person’s fertility and ability to get pregnant. In this blog post, we will discuss a few of the most common reasons couples struggle to get pregnant.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, defines infertility as the inability to get pregnant after one year of having regular sexual intercourse without birth control. Studies have found that about 1 in 5 women will experience infertility in the United States. Many factors affect a person’s fertility, varying between males and females.
Common causes for female infertility:
- Ovulation disorder
- Fallopian Tube obstruction. Fallopian tubes that are blocked or have scarring make it difficult, if not impossible, for sperm to travel through the fallopian tube to the egg
- Uterine Abnormalities. Fibroids, polyps, or an unusual shape of the uterus can also affect a woman’s fertility.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common health condition affecting about 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS often face difficulties when trying to become pregnant. This article will discuss the challenges associated with PCOS and pregnancy, as well as potential solutions for those hoping to conceive.
Common causes for male infertility:
- Sperm disorders, such as low sperm count or sperm shape abnormality
- Sperm delivery problem. Some examples of this include premature ejaculation or blockages in the testes inhibiting sperm from exiting the body
Some common risk factors are associated with infertility:
- Age. Many experts advise that a women’s fertility decreases gradually after the age of 30.
- Smoking. Men and women who smoke also are at risk for difficulties conceiving. If a woman successfully conceives and smokes, they are also at an enhanced risk for pregnancy complications.
- Weight. Both being overweight and underweight can have a negative impact on a person’s fertility.
So when should you seek help if you have been trying to get pregnant and are unsuccessful? If you are under the age of 35 and aren’t pregnant after one year of regular, unprotected sex, you should seek help from a healthcare provider.
Endometriosis is a common condition that affects the tissues around your uterus. The condition occurs when this tissue, known as endometrium, begins to grow outside of your uterus. Experts say that up to half of women with endometriosis also have fertility issues. Some of the most common symptoms associated with endometriosis include painful periods, heavy periods, and painful intercourse. Treatment and management options are available for endometriosis, and it is important to speak with your provider about the different options to find a treatment plan that will benefit you.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that directly affects your body’s ability to ovulate. It’s an extremely common condition that affects up to 20% of women of reproductive age. Another important statistic is that up to 80% of women with PCOS will also have problems with fertility. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome causes an imbalance in the hormones that aid egg production and maturation. This means that women with PCOS often have many more follicles than usual, but those follicles don’t ovulate. Since no egg is released to be fertilized, there can be no pregnancy.
PCOS can also cause the body to increase testosterone production, which may prevent the lining of your uterus from developing typically. This makes it difficult for an egg to implant correctly and/or receive the nourishment it needs to mature. These hormone fluctuations can also cause irregular periods and ovulation, making it difficult to get pregnant. If a woman does get pregnant with PCOS, there are also some conditions or complications that they may be at higher risk for developing.
PCOS can make it more challenging for women to get pregnant. The primary reason is that PCOS causes irregular or absent periods due to hormonal imbalances. These imbalances can lead to infrequent or unpredictable ovulation, making it harder to know the best time to try for a baby. In fact, PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women.
Women with PCOS may experience several complications during pregnancy, including:
- Gestational diabetes: Women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy.
- Preeclampsia: PCOS increases the risk of preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure and damage to organs like the liver and kidneys during pregnancy.
- Preterm birth: Women with PCOS may be more likely to deliver their babies before 37 weeks of pregnancy, which can lead to complications for the baby.
- Miscarriage: Studies suggest that women with PCOS may have a higher risk of miscarriage compared to women without the condition.
Solutions for Getting Pregnant with PCOS
Despite the challenges, many women with PCOS can successfully become pregnant. Some solutions include:
- Lifestyle changes: Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly can help regulate hormones and improve fertility (8).
- Medications: Doctors may prescribe fertility medications like clomiphene citrate to stimulate ovulation in women with PCOS (9).
- In vitro fertilization (IVF): IVF is an assisted reproductive technology that can increase the chances of pregnancy for women with PCOS who have not been successful with other treatments (10).
- Consult a specialist: A reproductive endocrinologist can provide specialized care and develop a personalized treatment plan for women with PCOS trying to conceive.
While PCOS can make it more challenging to get pregnant, there are several solutions available to help women with this condition conceive. By working closely with a healthcare provider, women with PCOS can explore different treatment options and find the best approach for their individual needs.
Talk To Your OBGYN About Your Infertility Options
So when is it time to get help during your pregnancy journey? Ideally, before you even begin trying! By scheduling an appointment with your provider, you can discuss your risk factors and how to get pregnant successfully. So if you are ready to take this step in your pregnancy journey, book an annual exam with us today!