One of the most heartbreaking situations a couple can face is infertility. When you have been denied the magical experience of bringing a new life into the world, it may seem as though nothing will ever fill that void in your heart. Unfortunately, infertility is more common than you might think — with one in eight American couples struggling to have a baby.
Although it may take some experimentation and time to discover what the best option is, all hope is not lost if you cannot conceive a baby naturally. Read on for answers to frequently asked questions about infertility.
What Exactly Is Infertility?
To be considered truly infertile, a couple must have been having regular sexual intercourse, without the use of birth control, for one year. Women who are older than 35 should be evaluated for fertility after six months of trying to conceive.
What is the Cause of Infertility?
One of the most difficult aspects of infertility in a couple is that there are many different causes. It could be the man’s sperm that isn’t working quite right, or the would-be mother may have issues with ovulation. Naturally, it’s essential to determine which of these situations is the case before pursuing any sort of treatment.
The older a couple is, the more likely they will have trouble conceiving a child without intervention. By the time she reaches age 40, a woman’s odds of getting pregnant drop to about 10% per menstrual cycle — compared to a younger woman’s chances, which can be up to 30% per cycle.
In some instances, despite extensive testing, the couple may never discover. the reason for their fertility. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that children are off the table. It will just take more effort and possibly a longer period of time before the couple finds a method of conception that will work.
How Does Health Affect Fertility?
If you are trying to conceive, explain the fertility specialists at South Valley Women’s Health Care, it’s especially important to take care of your health.
Women who are underweight or overweight have more difficulty getting pregnant. Women who smoke cigarettes or drink moderate- to heavy levels of alcohol run the risk of lower fertility. Fertility in men is also impacted by substance use or abuse, as cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana can all reduce a man’s sperm count and sperm movement.
Nutrition is a key factor in maintaining overall health and boosting fertility. Higher dietary levels of folic acid, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids have all been associated with improved fertility.
What Are Some of the Options for Treating Infertility?
Now, let’s take a look at the options that can help a couple conceive a baby.
The first treatment that many couples turn to is fertility drugs. These target the hormones that regulate ovulation. Many women who take this route are successful in conceiving within three cycles, or roughly three months’ worth of drugs. One potential downside to fertility drugs is that they may work too well — leading to twins, triplets, or multiple births of even more babies. While this may be a blessing to couples who have tried to conceive, it can also increase the risk of complications for the mother.
If it is the male partner whose fertility is in question, artificial insemination is usually the first approach. This involves placing the man’s sperm directly into the woman’s uterus. It can be very effective if the sperm themselves are viable, but lack motility (their ability to “swim” to the egg after the male ejaculates inside the woman’s vagina).
In Vitro Fertilization
In this type of treatment, the egg and sperm are combined externally, in a lab dish. The resulting embryo is then transplanted to the woman’s womb to grow naturally. This is a good solution to either male or female infertility.
In some cases, a surrogate mother may be used. Sometimes she provides the egg and the uterus, and receives the man’s sperm through artificial insemination. Other times, if the biological parents have viable eggs and sperm but the woman cannot carry a fetus to term, the surrogate will simply provide the uterus and VF will be conducted.
Final Thoughts About Fertility
If none of these options are effective, or if a couple chooses for whatever reason not to pursue these expensive and often time-consuming treatments, adoption may be considered. There are definitely pros and cons to becoming a parent this way, and it’s important to be brutally honest with your partner if you are not interested in adoption or would consider it only as a last resort.