When you decide it’s time to start your family, or grow by one more, it’s exciting. The anticipation of celebrating a new little one consumes your thoughts as you eagerly await that positive pregnancy test. But what if it doesn’t happen soon enough? When is it the right time for concern and how long should you try before going to a fertility specialist?
For over six million American women the time does come when they must seek medical help to identify the reason they aren’t able to conceive. For those under 35 doctors usually recommend scheduling a fertility evaluation after 12 months of unprotected sex without conception. Those over 35 should seek help after six months of unprotected sex with no success.
Why Is 35 An Age of Concern?
The reason doctors want to see women over the age of 35 sooner is because their fertility declines more rapidly as they approach their 40s. When a woman is born she has all the eggs she will ever have. Once she reaches puberty those eggs mature and if they remain unfertilized the egg and lining of the uterus shed during the menstrual period.
Your body releases eggs (follicles) with each passing month but several follicles don’t mature and those eggs reabsorb into your body and go away. As you approach menopause your egg reserve is quite diminished which means there are fewer viable and healthy eggs for fertilization which may lead to infertility. A 30 year old woman has a 20% chance for getting pregnant each month. By the time that same woman turns 40 her chances for pregnancy drop to 5%.
Of course if you are under 35 and have any of the following experiences you should mention them to your doctor:
- Your periods are irregular or you don’t have a period
- Your family has a history of early menopause
- You have a higher risk or history of blocked fallopian tubes or other issues with your fallopian tubes such as an ectopic pregnancy, or if you’ve had a tubal ligation (“tied” your tubes)
- Your partner had a vasectomy
- You or your partner have or had a sexually transmitted infection
- You or your partner have a low libido (desire for sex)
- Your partner suffers from erectile dysfunction
- You are an LGBTQ+ couple or individual
Health Conditions That Impact Fertility
Obviously each case is unique and certain health conditions affect your fertility or your partner’s fertility so sometimes you need a fertility specialist sooner than the recommended six to 12 months. Some of the most common health conditions interfering with fertility are:
- Endometriosis: Endometriosis occurs when tissue related to the issue found in the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. The tissue attaches to other organs within your pelvis such as your ovaries, fallopian tubes, etc. As your hormones signal your body its time for your period the endometrial tissue outside your uterus begins to try to shed. This causes pain, bleeding, scarring and inflammation that leads to infertility. Endometriosis treatment depends on how advanced your condition is but you may require surgery.
- Uterine Fibroids: Fibroids are non-cancerous growths in the muscle of the uterus. They are very common during reproductive age and may not impact your fertility or your ability to carry a pregnancy at all. But, for some women the fibroids interfere with conception and may cause a miscarriage. Treatment for fibroids depends on your diagnosis.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women today. It’s a condition in which you fail to ovulate due to a hormonal imbalance. If you do not ovulate regularly you have a difficult time becoming pregnant. There are different treatments for PCOS and they include injectable or oral medications
- Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI): When a woman is under the age of 40 and her ovaries stop functioning as they should the diagnosis is usually POI. With POI you have a very small chance of conception-less than 5%. Depending on diagnosis a woman with POI may need egg donation with IVF for pregnancy.
- Diabetes: Both men and women loving with diabetes often experience infertility. For women diabetes contributes to many of the conditions which impair fertility such as PCOS, premature menopause and irregular or absent periods. For men diabetes sometimes leads to erectile or ejaculatory dysfunction or abnormalities with the semen and sperm which cause malformed sperm, a low sperm count, slow moving sperm or non-viable sperm. Well-managed diabetes lowers your chance for fertility issues but be sure your doctor knows you are diabetic. If your diabetes isn’t under control your fertility is at risk and pregnancy, should it happen, is extremely dangerous to you and the baby.
Autoimmune conditions affect both male and female fertility so if you or your partner know you have an autoimmune disorder you should see a fertility specialist. Women and men diagnosed with a thyroid disorder may also have difficulty conceiving.
Another reason couples seek the help o a fertility specialist concerns multiple miscarriages. Although miscarriage is common in as many as 26% of the population, women who’ve experienced two or more miscarriages should schedule an evaluation. There may be an underlying cause treatable by a fertility specialist.
A Complex Issue
Infertility is a complex issue with no one-size-fits-all solution. Diagnosis varies and can be male factor, female factor or a combination of both. Sometimes a physician evaluates a couple or individual and finds no clear cut reason for the inability to conceive. When that happens your doctor diagnoses unexplained infertility. This doesn’t mean there is no treatment and your fertility specialist may recommend a few options for pregnancy.
A fertility specialist is a doctor specially trained in reproduction. They are board certified in obstetrics and gynecology as well as reproductive endocrinology and infertility. The primary role of a fertility specialist is diagnosing and treating your infertility. At Halo Fertility we offer a range of treatment options for couples and individuals concerned about infertility. Our compassionate, caring and professional team combines cutting edge technology with a dedication to your overall mind-body wellness. If you think it’s time for a fertility specialist contact Halo Fertility today.