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Finding support and solutions for infertility during National Infertility Awareness Week
National Infertility Awareness Week focuses not only on the discovery and awareness of infertility, but on asking appropriate questions, identifying and treating underlying health issues, and finding compassionate expert care. This year’s theme is #StartAsking, and has the goal of helping individuals and couples facing infertility overcome fears and anxieties associated with reproductive issues and encourages them to start seeking care. This week-long awareness campaign offers inspiration to both those with problems conceiving and those who have a helping hand to offer others who are struggling. We support efforts to increase public awareness, to remove the shame and self-doubt associated with infertility, and to create a supportive environment for all who want to create a family.
Out of 7 million infertile couples who are trying to conceive, 15% of women have difficulty in becoming pregnant. Of these, less than half seek help from their OB/GYN with even fewer seeking help from an infertility clinic. Many patients ask when they should seek treatment for infertility. Conventional medical advice is to seek treatment if someone has been trying to conceive for at least one year and is under the age of 35. However, if the male partner has a known or suspected low sperm count or the female partner is over 35 years old, has a history of pelvic inflammatory disease, painful periods, recurrent miscarriage, or irregular periods, then diagnosis and treatment should be explored sooner.
One of the major drivers of infertility is ovarian aging. While most of the eggs of a woman in her 20’s are chromosomally normal, by the time a woman is in her 40’s, greater than 90% are abnormal. To combat the age-related decline in reproductive function, many women are now freezing their eggs to preserve fertility. Thousands of healthy babies have been born from eggs that have been previously frozen, and oocyte cryopreservation is no longer considered to be an experimental technology.
When seeking infertility treatment, it is critical to assess the male partner’s reproductive potential. A semen analysis is a quick and easy test to determine the health of the sperm. If there is a problem identified, the male can be seen by a urologist to help identify any anatomic, hormonal, environmental, infectious, or other causes.
Another important question is how long it will take to achieve pregnancy. The answer depends on a number of factors including age, previous pregnancies, health, lifestyle factors and even family history. After all information is gathered, the physician relies on patient responses as well as on test results for predicting pregnancy outcomes.
Once an individual or couple starts trying to conceive, preconceptual counseling is performed and some basic testing is performed. Patients considering pregnancy should be on a vitamin with 0.4mg of folic acid starting 3 months prior to conception.
For couples facing infertility issues, it’s important to seek help, ask questions, and learn the facts about infertility and treatment options. The majority of couples are able to conceive a healthy baby and start their families. The first step is seeking treatment with an experienced fertility specialist who can answer your questions, inform you of your options and work with you to achieve your family goals. At RMA of New York, our goal is to help our patients evaluate any infertility issues preventing them from conceiving and ensure patients that with expert care and patience, it is likely that they will be able to build the family of their dreams.
RMA of New York is proud to partner with RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, in our mission to improve reproductive health and ensure equal access to infertility services for all.