Few things frustrate young women hoping to conceive more than getting their monthly visit from the cardinal yet again. Infertility plagues many women when it comes time to add to their family. But how common is infertility in females?
The answer hinges on the stage of life a woman is experiencing, her overall health and, of course, the health of her partner. Additionally, those who stress the most over conceiving ironically seem to hinder their own chances — at least until they take a break from trying and go on vacation. By understanding some of the common causes of female infertility, more women will be able to make their dream of a little one of their own come true.
Just how common is infertility in females? It’s more prevalent than people think. On average, nearly 80 percent of couples conceive within the first year. Of those who do not, the female suffers infertility at roughly half the rate of men.
Sometimes physicians can pinpoint the reason for the difficulty in conceiving. Often, though, many factors may contribute to infertility, such as underlying illnesses, certain medications or exorbitant amounts of stress. Ironically enough, much of such stress can originate from failing to conceive despite trying regularly.
My cousin experienced stress infertility when trying to conceive for the first time. She and her spouse tried everything, including getting thorough workups by their doctors. Once she stopped trying and took a much-needed vacation, she returned from her trip to Disney World with baby-makes-three in her belly.
Sometimes a woman struggles to conceive due to a physical ailment. For example, women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome struggle to get pregnant more often than those who do not have the condition.
Endometriosis — a condition where the tissue lining the uterus grows on other nearby organs — can also cause fertility woes. While doctors often use hormonal birth control to tame the painful symptoms, women trying to conceive may require surgery to remove the endometrial tissue prior to getting pregnant.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) often results in female infertility, as the fallopian tubes can swell and cause blockage. Fortunately, a course of antibiotics to treat the underlying infection can clear up this disorder in many. How common is infertility in females caused by this disease? Approximately 10-15 percent of all women with the disorder go on to suffer problems conceiving, so professionals recommend seeking treatment immediately if symptoms of PID occur.
Uterine fibroids — painful growths which can cause severe menstrual pain — can create problems with fertility, too. Women who experience severe pain coupled with frequent urination do well to schedule a visit to the OB/GYN. Overweight women suffer fibroids at higher rates than women who maintain a healthy weight, so shedding a few pounds can help decrease the severity and size of growths.
Sometimes infertility stems not from a problem with the reproductive organs but with the endocrine system. This is the system which governs the hormones of the body. For example, many women suffer from hypothyroidism, which may result in problems conceiving.
Couples younger than 35 who have tried to conceive for a period of six months without results benefit from scheduling a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible. The sooner the cause of the infertility is addressed, the less severe the potential damage if an underlying disorder is the culprit.
Once a physician identifies the woman as the one with the issues, they will perform a series of tests to determine why. Common tests include blood draws, ultrasounds and various forms of laparoscopy, where the doctor uses a small catheter-like tube to view the internal organs. Some couples may wish to undergo genetic testing as well, although others shy away from such procedures out of fear of getting labeled as having a pre-existing condition.
Fortunately, a host of procedures exists to help couples suffering from infertility, although some options prove pricey. Procedures such as in-vitro fertilization have made it possible for many wanna-be parents, including same-sex couples, to start the family they dream of. Surrogate mothers help infertile couples by carrying the baby to term for them, making this a good choice for those whose infertility stems from scarring of the uterus or fallopian tubes.
Others choose to adopt a child or even multiple children. The parents benefit by growing their family, and the birth mother knows her baby is loved. Some adoption arrangements even allow the birth mother to remain a part of their child’s life.
Not every woman grows up wanting to have children, but for those who do, finding out they struggle with infertility can potentially shatter a lifelong dream. By seeking treatment early, when symptoms appear, women can treat diseases that lead to fertility issues early, before extensive scarring occurs. The marvels of modern medicine will, hopefully soon, make it possible for all those who desire a child of their own to have one.