“Why am I not getting pregnant? The first time was so easy.”
How many couples do you know trying to get pregnant and have difficulty? Or have “fertility anxiety”?
On any given day in my practice, I am faced with the seemingly straight forward, yet complex question from women at various stages of their lives; “can I get pregnant?”. Women in their twenties and nervous about their health; those in their thirties worried about the metaphorical clock ticking away; and women in their forties optimistically seeking guidance. Some may have tried a few cycles naturally to get pregnant and others may not be ready yet.
Fertility is big news because the rate of infertility is increasing in both men and women. Several factors are implicated and the most common are environment, age, genetics, and medical conditions.
Diet and environmental toxins are very concerning topic. Pesticides, hormones added to foods, chemicals in the air we breathe and water we drink may play an important role. It effects the health of the female ovaries and the eggs they produce; it also effects the number and quality of sperm in men.
Advanced maternal age is another big factor. As ovaries age, the produced eggs are harder to fertilize. The number of eggs also decrease with age. The rate of attrition increases after 30, speeds up after 35 and at 40 very few eggs are left. If you are from a family with children born to mothers in their forties, your chance of having children later in life also increases. Genetics is an important factor and is much harder to analyze. Testing can determine your approximate egg count and quality and many of the factors that impede fertility.
Medical conditions that may not play a significant role in the fertility of a young adult can become serious factors as the person ages. Fibroids and endometriosis are two common examples. These conditions worsen with age and cause damage to reproductive organs. Hormonal imbalance such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, disrupt ovulation cycles and make eggs weaker. Simple office evaluation can diagnose many of these medical conditions.
Some of the fertility anxiety experienced by women may be justified and many are not, and most are easily treated. Discuss any concerns with a gynecologist. There are many ways your fertility can be evaluated. Simple, tried and true instructions can increase your odds of pregnancy, such as treating your body better with a balanced diet, exercise, and getting your checkup at least annually. In my practice, at times, simple solutions and early detection have made tremendous improvements in a couples fertility.
Oddly enough, anxiety about fertility has shown to reduce the chances of pregnancy. So, relax. Seek the help of a gynecologist.