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Five Reasons You Might Not Be Getting Pregnant

a blog by Jane Frederick, M.D., HRC Fertility, June 19, 2014

Over 6 million couples in the United States struggle with infertility. If you have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, then you are not alone. There are five common reasons why you might not be conceiving:

  1. PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). PCOS is a common affliction that disturbs hormone levels and ovulation. It is not completely understood why or how the changes in the hormone levels occur. The changes make it harder for a woman's ovaries to release fully grown (mature) eggs. Normally, one or more eggs are released during a woman's period. This is called ovulation. In PCOS, mature eggs are not released from the ovaries. Instead, they can form very small cysts in the ovary. Symptoms of PCOS can include weight gain, breakthrough bleeding between periods, abnormal hair growth and skin issues.
  2. Endometriosis. Painful periods, heaving bleeding are hallmarks of this common condition that prevents pregnancy. Every month, a woman's ovaries produce hormones that tell the cells lining the uterus (womb) to swell and get thicker. The body removes these extra cells from the womb lining (endometrium) when you get your period. If these cells (called endometrial cells) implant and grow outside the uterus, endometriosis results. The growths are called endometrial tissue implants. Women with endometriosis typically have tissue implants on the ovaries, bowel, rectum, bladder, and on the lining of the pelvic area. They can occur in other areas of the body, too. We aren’t exactly sure how it causes infertility but we know it is connected.
  3. Low Sperm Count. Many men are nervous to get tested but a sperm count or mobility issue could be preventing you from conceiving. Simple, easy tests from an infertility clinic can confirm if this is an issue. Not only does count matter but quality and movement are key issues as well. Your male partner could have a good count but many abnormal sperm that aren’t moving in the right direction. An infertility clinic can run a complete testing panel that will tell you if there are issues. At home tests aren’t recommended as they can’t test for quality and movement.
  4. You're Over 35. Our fertility decreases drastically as we age, if you are over 35 you could be menstruating regularly but you eggs could be “older.” Keys to conceiving at an older age are getting enough folic acid, limiting caffeine and eating a healthy diet. It is critical over 35 to visit a fertility specialist after trying and failing to conceive after six months. If there is an infertility issue, time is of the essence over the age of 35.
  5. Undiagnosed Medical Issue. Often women are unaware they have a thyroid issue or a diabetes. This can lead to infertility. An infertility specialist runs a round of tests that can tell you if you have underlying problem. Celiac disease, fibroids, cervical stenosis and undetected sexually transmitted diseases are all medical issues that can cause infertility. Your best bet is to avoid smoking, alcohol and overeating in order to be as healthy as possible.

The good news is that almost all infertility is curable with today’s technology. Today, more than ever, every diagnosis can typically be treated using an advanced reproductive technology that is safe. Almost all couples that head down the infertility path do end up having the family of their dreams. It may take time and some emotional heartache, but with perseverance and taking the correct health steps, you are well on your way to having a child. As always, please check with a qualified fertility specialist before doing any at-home tests or if you have been trying to conceive for more than six months.


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