Did you know that one in eight heterosexual couples have difficulty getting pregnant or bringing a pregnancy to term? Almost seven million women between the ages of 15 and 44 have what’s known as “impaired fecundity,” and if you’ve found yourself among that number, take heart knowing that you’re not alone. It may seem as if every female friend, relative, or stranger around you is popping out babies, but there are many other women who are going through the same struggle as you. If you’re just beginning to suspect that you might be having fertility issues, it might be worth speaking with a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility doctor) or visiting a reproduction clinic as a first step. They can help your dreams of having a baby come true and they’re a great resource for discussing which procedures you might want to pursue.
Take Heart, You’re Not Alone
For any woman who has wanted a baby and has had trouble conceiving, she might speak to a feeling of isolation or the feeling that something is “wrong” with her. This could not be farther from the truth. Almost 15% of married women experience difficulty conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term and almost 7.5 million women have received infertility services in their lifetime. Just under half of women with infertility seek medical assistance and of those, around 65% do give birth!
So there is hope, though you may feel discouraged now. But this is why speaking to a fertility doctor is so helpful — both in taking actionable steps toward success and in feeling emotionally and mentally better as well.
What Might Be Affecting My Ability to Have a Baby?
There is often no one set thing that affects your fertility. Truthfully, a variety of factors can be at play here, especially when you consider that a relatively young couple between the ages of 29 to 33 with a perfectly functioning reproductive system still only has a 20-25% chance of conceiving during any given month.
However, age could certainly be one factor, at least for women. Women’s fertility is the highest between the ages of 20 and 24 and by the age of 40, only two in five women who want to have a baby will be able to conceive. Fertility starts to really decline once a woman turns 30 and increases more dramatically after the age of 35.
Your partner may also want to get tested for infertility. At least one-third of infertility cases are attributed to the male partner in a relationship. Your health could also play a role in how easy it is for you to get pregnant. Being severely underweight or overweight, having hormonal imbalances, or being exposed to occupational/environmental dangers can make it harder to conceive or carry a child to term.
Certain health conditions like endometriosis or fallopian tube disease can also complicate getting pregnant, as can some sexually transmitted diseases (even if they’ve been cured).
What are Common Infertility Procedures?
IVF (in vitro fertilization) is perhaps one of the best known infertility treatments. In this type of treatment, the egg is fertilized in a test tube or other location (not in the woman’s body). Once the egg has been fertilized, the embryo is placed in the uterus. Women will likely need to take fertility medication to encourage egg production before the fertilization takes place.
Fertility drugs are also an option (between 85-90% of infertility cases wind up being treated with drug therapy or with surgery) and are often one of the first procedures tried.
Intrauterine insemination (commonly known as artificial insemination) is also a common method, where sperm is placed right into the uterus, enhancing the sperm’s chances of fertilizing an egg.
As you can see, there are plenty of options when it comes to difficulty getting (or staying) pregnant and technology continues to improve. You’ll want to speak to your fertility doctor and see what option he or she feels is best for you and your partner at the time.