An estimated 1 in every 8 couples struggle to conceive. While infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after having regular, unprotected intercourse for 1 year, it is considered “normal” for an average fertile couple under 35 years of age to try for 1 year before conception occurs. But for those individuals who are older than 35, that time frame for conception becomes smaller. If you have not conceived during this time frame, you may be asking, “Why?” Our fertility experts at Spokane’s Center for Reproductive Health explain six reasons why you might not be getting pregnant.
1. Maternal Age
Age is one of the initial indicators used to assess a woman’s fertility health. From ages 30 to 35, there is a gradual decline in a woman’s ability to become pregnant; after age 40, there is a sharp decline in conception. Women are less likely to ovulate regularly as they age, which could be a reason for a decline in one’s fertility. Women also produce fewer healthy eggs as they age, creating resistance to fertilization and lower pregnancy rates.
2. Excess Body Weight
While not every woman who is overweight will struggle to conceive, there are many that do struggle. Weight can be concerning for women when it contributes to reproductive health concerns, such as irregular menstrual cycles and ovulatory dysfunction. Excess weight can cause an increase in insulin levels, which may lead to the ovaries producing male hormones and limited egg release.
3. Not Enough Body Weight
While being overweight has implications on fertility, an appropriate amount of fat is necessary for a healthy reproductive system. The appropriate amount may vary based on the person. Too little body fat can cause absence of periods and ovulation, making conception very difficult.
4. Smoking Habit
Smoking can have negative effects on your reproductive health. Compared to non-smokers, smokers commonly experience a higher chance that conception will take 1 year or longer. Smoking can also reduce the levels of estrogen in the body.
5. Existing Medical Conditions
Nearly one-third of all infertility diagnoses in women are related to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, commonly referred to as PCOS. PCOS is the most common ovulatory disorder in women of reproductive age and is caused by hormonal imbalances that hinder ovulation. Endometriosis is also a common cause of infertility, in which tissue lining the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. These conditions can often go undiagnosed, as many people don’t have noticeable symptoms.
6. Your Partner
While infertility is generally perceived as a female issue, the reality is 40 percent of infertility is connected to male reproductive health issues. Erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory issues, spinal cord injuries, tumors, and undescended testes are all fairly common culprits of male infertility. Because basic testing for these problems is relatively simple and inexpensive, a semen analysis is performed as part of every couple’s routine testing at Center for Reproductive Health.
Month after month of negative pregnancy tests can be disappointing and frustrating for men and women alike. If this list didn’t provide you with any clear indications of potential fertility concerns, please note that these six reasons are not the only possibilities. Even after testing, some couples find that their infertility is ‘unexplained.’ This can be a baffling or discouraging diagnosis when there is not a real “reason” for the infertility. Individualized tests, analysis and consultations with Dr. Robins will help determine your best way forward.
If you have been trying to conceive and are not getting pregnant, it might be time to see a fertility specialist at Center for Reproductive Health. When it comes to fertility, time is of the essence. Advanced technologies and treatments are available to help you find your path to parenthood.
If you would like to learn more, please call (509) 462-7070 to schedule an appointment.
End-of-the-year Holidays can be daunting, even in the best of circumstances. For those trying to conceive, holidays often add additional emotional stress to an already complicated situation. By planning in advance and acknowledging that holidays may be uncomfortable or emotional, you can better prepare yourself and improve your chances of thriving through the celebrations.
Our friends at Resolve have provided helpful tips for thriving this holiday season:
While Visiting Family and Friends
DO: Plan to spend time with couples or friends who don’t have children if family festivities are too much to bear this year. Consider arriving just in time for the holiday dinner, rather than the night before if you find it painful to be around your young nieces, nephews and cousins.
DON’T: Rely completely on family traditions to fulfill your present needs.
Celebrating the Season
DO: Spend time doing things you like best. Prepare a spectacular meal, take long walks, go horse-back riding or jogging, or curl up by a fire with a good novel. Plan a special trip just for you and your partner: a ski weekend, or a few nights at a cozy country inn.
DON’T: Pretend that there’s nothing wrong and carry on with “business as usual.”
When Sharing Your Feelings
DO: Decide in advance how you will handle difficult and insensitive questions. You may even want to rehearse your answers. You may decide to be upfront with friends and relatives as to why you can’t join certain celebrations and traditions which are just too painful right now. Express your appreciation to friends and relatives who have given you their love and support.
DON’T: Be caught off guard by unexpected or embarrassing questions about your plans for having a family. Plan your responses, but don’t feel that you have to disclose all the details of your situation either!
Finding your holiday “Cheer”
DO: Remember to capture the “spirit” in each holiday. Participate in activities that bring meaning to you at this time. Consider volunteering at a local charitable organization. Cheering up others has a rejuvenating effect.
DON’T: Close yourself off to positive feelings and new experiences. You may find that you have a special ability to make others feel good, even if you’re not feeling upbeat yourself.
In the Quieter Moments
DO: Set aside time to share your feelings with your partner. Allow yourself to feel sad, discouraged or frustrated. Trying to conceive is a complicated and emotional process, and you are entitled to those feelings. Talk with each other about your feelings. Your partner may be able to help you through the rough times. Give yourself, and each other, frequent pats on the back for making it through the holiday events.
DON’T: Get caught up in the whirlwind of the holidays and forget about each other. You need each other’s comfort more than ever.
When you’re struggling to conceive and surrounded by family, the holidays can be overwhelming. Your gratitude and holiday cheer might look or feel different this year, but know that you are not alone and the Center for Reproductive Health is fighting beside you every step of the way.
Center for Reproductive Health offers personalized fertility treatments and support for couples and individuals. Founded in 1998, Center for Reproductive Health has helped more than 4,000 Inland Northwest families conceive babies and has grown to be Spokane’s largest reproductive health clinic. To learn more or to make an appointment, call (509) 462-7070.