Why You Are Struggling To Conceive: 7 Top Causes Of Infertility
From the moment you started puberty and had sex ed classes, you learned about what you could do to avoid getting pregnant. You probably even bought a box of condoms in case you ended up having intimate moments with your dates while you were in high school and college. Again, the last thing you wanted to do was to inadvertently get pregnant during the time of your life when you were busy getting an education and building your career, traveling, and finding out who you are.
However, now that you are ready to finally create a family, and you are no longer using protection and any type of birth control - you are struggling to conceive. You were so afraid of getting pregnant as a teenager and young adult in college, and now that you are ready to conceive, you can't. It makes you wonder why you even worried about getting pregnant in the first place since it is not happening now.
Because of struggling with conception, you are thinking about how pointless it was for you to use birth control back when you were younger. However, you did not know back then you would be struggling with infertility.
What Is Infertility?
Infertility is when a couple has been trying for 12 months or longer to conceive while the woman is under 35 years of age and has not been successful. Women over the age of 35 who have not successfully gotten pregnant in a six-month timeframe of attempting to conceive are struggling with fertility as well. Infertility can also be defined as not having trouble with conceiving, but failing to stay pregnant. According to NICHD, about 12 to 15 percent of couples are infertile. That figure may even be higher than that nowadays.
Infertile couples end up having to see their doctors to get a referral to a fertility specialist to examine the cause of their inability to conceive or to stay pregnant. Let's now look at the top 7 causes of infertility.
1. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women. This condition is caused by elevated testosterone levels in women that cause hormonal imbalances which result in irregular periods and cysts on ovaries. The condition is also characterized by obesity, acne, facial hair, insulin resistance, and thinning hair. Ovulation either does not happen or is irregular which makes it very difficult to conceive or at the very least, predictable to conceive.
Women who have mild PCOS symptoms may not struggle with infertility. However, those who have severe enough symptoms will struggle to get pregnant. Fortunately, changes in diet along with a low dose of the diabetes medication Metformin and the fertility drug Clomid can help women with PCOS conceive.
Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrium or the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus, the ovaries, in the fallopian tubes, and even the abdomen. It can be quite painful and it is a common cause for infertility. Periods are often quite painful for women with endometriosis. Some women who have the condition do not have pain and have no idea they have endometriosis but find out they do once they look into why they cannot conceive.
In some cases, endometriosis can be treated with surgery and that can be the solution. However, in some cases, it can't be treated and sometimes pregnancy can be achieved through IVF or through surrogacy.
3. STIs And Growths In The Reproductive System
If you have had untreated STIs such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, it can cause scarring in the fallopian tubes which cause blockages. That will prevent a pregnancy from happening. Or, it can increase the chances of an ectopic pregnancy occurring, which can also happen with endometriosis. These untreated STIs can also cause fibroids in the uterus which are growths that can prevent implantation from happening as well which results in very early miscarriages.
Surgeries can help resolve the issues, but oftentimes women who have these types of scarring and growths have to go through IVF.
If your body mass index or BMI is over 30, that is defined as obesity. Obesity can cause hormonal imbalances because excess fat carries extra estrogen that can cause ovulation irregularities. The best solution to this is to lose weight and get to an optimal weight with the help of a dietician. Cutting back on sugar, calories, and implementing exercise will help you attain the weight loss you need to conceive. Additionally, if you were to get pregnant at a very high weight, that can increase the chances of pregnancy-related complications.
5. Waiting Too Long To Conceive
If you wanted to build your career and live your life in your 20's then you are not alone. Many women are choosing that way of living to live their lives and learn who they are before settling down. That is also quite recommended for them to do so they don't feel they have missed out on anything. Because once you settle down and have a family, you are quite restricted. However, if you are approaching 35 years of age and you are struggling to conceive, then there is a good chance your age is a factor.
Doctors recommend that women that are 35 years or older to not wait longer than 6 months if a successful conception has not happened within that timeframe.
6. It May Not Be You, It May Be Him
You are at an ideal weight, and your timing for ovulation and periods are predictable, but you have been trying to get pregnant for a year and it hasn't happened. One of the things they test for in couples is the man's sperm count, quality, and movement. If it is poor, then that is the reason that conception has not happened. Fortunately, there are treatments for male infertility but it is a matter of determining the cause for it.
7. Unexplained Infertility
This form of infertility is the most distressing because it is what it is called - unexplained. That is when the woman's reproductive and overall health is good, and the man's health and sperm health is also good. However, a pregnancy cannot be achieved regardless. Fertility interventions such as IUI or IVF have been known to help. But sometimes they don't and these couples either adopt or remain childless.
However, more often than not, infertility can be resolved. It does depend on the severity most of the time, but even in cases that appeared hopeless, a resolution was found. Infertility is a stressful thing to go through. You are longing for a family and it is not happening. That is the time to get support from others who are in the same boat. And infertility should not be a taboo topic as more and more awareness should be spread about it. That will only help sufferers feel less alone.