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Articles / “I can’t get pregnant!” - The most common fertility problems in women

“I can’t get pregnant!” - The most common fertility problems in women

Have you ever wondered when to start checking your fertility and start worrying about whether you will be able to get pregnant?  Is it better to wait patiently, or should you contact your doctor immediately after you have become concerned?

Every sixth couple trying to have a baby has problems conceiving. Most doctors agree that a fertility problem might be present if you have been having regular, unprotected intercourse for at least 12 months (six months if you are over 35) without conceiving. After this time, you should contact your doctor for an infertility diagnosis. If something bothers you before then, especially if you are closely monitoring your body, you may want to see your doctor even sooner. 

women hoping to be pregnant

For as many as 90% of couples struggling with infertility, treatment is successful. Problems with getting pregnant are evenly divided between the woman and the man. About 30% of fertility problems can be attributed to the woman, another 30% can be attributed to the man, and the remaining percentage consists of unexplained causes and the combined problems of both partners.

The most common obstacles to becoming pregnant in women are:

 Ovulation problems

Problems with ovulation occur when, for some reason, the egg cell does not get released, or it does get released, but because of its low quality, it cannot be fertilized. About one-fourth of the issues women experience with becoming pregnant are related to ovulation. The menstruation cycle is a complicated process, which can be easily disrupted. For example, the body may be missing some hormone, there may be too much of it, or it gets released at the wrong time.

Problems stemming from the disruption of the body’s hormonal balance may be caused by many phenomena, such as intensive stress, an unhealthy lifestyle, or improper body weight.

Possible symptoms that may indicate ovulation problems include:

  • Light or irregular menstruation.
  • Unusually heavy or light menstrual bleeding.
  • No indication of ovulation. If you have been taking your basal body temperature, but OvuFriend has not indicated ovulation on your chart for a few cycles, it may be a good idea to visit your doctor to check whether ovulation occurs at all.

Possible solutions in order to conceive:

Much depends on the cause of the ovulation problems, but the most popular methods include:

  • Hormonal regulation of the cycle – administration of hormonal drugs to regulate the menstrual cycles.
  • Hormonal stimulation of ovulation – administration of hormonal drugs stimulating ovulation.
  • Administration of drugs to aid the release of the egg from the Graafian follicle, or drugs lowering the increased levels of hormones, like prolactin, in the blood.

In case of temporary hormonal disorders, the effectiveness of treatment is very high.

 Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is one of the main causes of infertility, and may affect as many as 10% of women of reproductive age. This condition causes hormonal imbalances in women, due to excessive production of male hormones by the ovaries. This results in impaired growth and maturation of the Graafian follicles (which contain the egg cell), and causes disrupted, or no ovulation.

Possible symptoms:

  • Irregular cycles.
  • Light menstrual bleeding.
  • Excessive hair in areas typical to men.
  • Acne.
  • Tendency to gain weight (not always present!)

Possible solutions in order to conceive:

  • A change of diet and lifestyle (e.g. maintaining proper body weight).
  • Administration of fertility drugs stimulating the grow of the Graafian follicles.
  • Reduction of insulin resistance through the administration of a diabetes drug called Metformin.

 Fallopian tube obstruction

Another common obstacle to conception may be blocked fallopian tubes: they block the access of sperm to the egg or, even if fertilization does occur, they prevent the entry of the fertilized egg into the uterus.

Fallopian tube obstruction may be caused by surgical scars, infections, ectopic pregnancy and miscarriages. Fallopian tube obstruction may also accompany endometriosis.

Possible symptoms:

  • Obstructed or damaged fallopian tubes do not generally present any symptoms. The patency of the fallopian tubes is examined during infertility diagnosis by the HSG procedure (Hysterosalpingography).

Possible solutions in order to conceive:

  • Laparoscopy or a surgical restoration of patency of the fallopian tubes.
  • At times, a surgical removal of the fallopian tube is required.

 Endometriosis

Endometriosisis a condition in which fragments of the endometrium appear in other organs outside of the uterine cavity, although usually within the woman’s reproductive system. It is estimated that as much as t 40-50% of infertility in women may be caused by endometriosis.

Possible symptoms:

  • Often, there are no symptoms.
  • Pain during menstruation and ovulation.
  • Pain during intercourse.
  • Pain in the lower abdomen, occurring in different parts of the menstrual cycle.
  • Bloating, constipation, diarrhea and fatigue may also occur.

Possible solutions in order to conceive:

  • Administration of fertility drugs stimulating ovulation, combined with intrauterine insemination (IUI).
  • Surgical treatment removing the adhesion and endometriosis outbreaks.
  • A surgical restoration of patency of the fallopian tubes, if the endometrium has caused fallopian tube obstruction.
  • In-vitro fertilization treatment.

 A woman’s age or early menopause

The ability to get pregnant decreases with the woman’s age. Once a woman turns 35, her fertility decreases quite rapidly. The egg cells released during ovulation are often of a lower quality, they may be partially damaged, or have chromosomal defects that prevent the development of the fertilized egg. You should know, though, that 35 years of age is just a conventional boundary, because fertility depends on many factors, including lifestyle and genetic predispositions.

Sometimes, a woman stops ovulating and begins menopause much earlier than her age would indicate. Early menopause is relatively rare. Its causes are not fully understood, but specialists notice them more often in smokers, women with thyroid disease and diabetes, and women who have been underweight for many years. Genetic predispositions are also a significant factor here. It is a good idea to ask your mother and grandmother when they entered menopause.

Possible symptoms:

  • Irregular menstruation, occurring less and less often, such as every two to three months.
  • Scanty or extensive, though short menstrual bleeding.
  • Loss of libido.
  • Vaginal dryness.

Possible solutions in order to conceive:

  • Administration of hormone replacement therapy (unfortunately, ovulation returns in only about 5% of the cases).
  • In-vitro fertilization (IVF) using donor eggs or embryos.

At times, even though a woman’s test results are normal, she still can not get pregnant. Her doctor may then diagnose an unexplained infertility, which means that the cause has not been determined.
 

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