Infertility — Worries You May Have, Answers that Could Help
Angela Greif, MD
Jones Regional Medical Center
In the U.S., about ten percent or 6.1 million women, have problems getting pregnant or carrying a baby to term. It isn’t something anyone wants to think about or worry about, but it can be something you are dealing with. The following is information regarding infertility and possibly some answers to help calm those worries.
- Risk factors for female infertility include:
- Age. Fertility begins to decline when a woman reaches her mid-30s, and rapidly declines after her late 30s.
- Weight. Extreme weight levels, either high or low, can contribute to infertility.
- Smoking. Cigarette smoking can impair a woman’s fertility.
Infertility may be caused by an underlying medical condition that damages the fallopian tubes, interferes with ovulation or causes hormonal complications.
- These medical conditions include:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Premature ovarian failure
- Uterine fibroids
If you have been unable to conceive after one year of unprotected sex, talk with your doctor about having your fertility evaluated. Fertility testing should especially be performed if a woman is over 35 years old or if either partner has known risk factors for infertility. An analysis of the man's semen should be performed before the female partner undergoes any invasive testing.
- In addition to medical history and physical examination, specific diagnostic tests for female infertility include:
- Blood and urine tests to evaluate hormonal levels
- Imaging and ultrasound tests, (such as hysterosalpingography, hysteroscopy, or laparoscopy), to examine the uterus and fallopian tubes
Treatment for infertility should first address any underlying medical condition that may be contributing to fertility problems.
- If this step does not restore fertility, there are several treatment approaches available:
- Lifestyle measures (healthy lifestyle, planning sexual activity with ovulation cycle, managing stress and emotions)
- Drugs to induce ovulation, such as clomiphene and gonadotrophins
- Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF)
For more information on this or any other health related topic, visit www.jonesregional.org