Infertility generally means the inability to conceive even after having unprotected sex for one year, but it could also include having stillbirth or miscarriage. Infertility is slowly becoming common in the United States; apparently, in 2020, an estimated 15% of couples had trouble conceiving. While the problem could affect men and women, we’ve laid down factors that could affect success if you’re planning to start a family and what you can do about it:
Age may be just a number, but it is the most important factor affecting fertility if you’re trying to get pregnant. Women are born with all the eggs they have, and as they age, the quality and quantity of these eggs decline. While menopause may not happen until 50, your chances of getting pregnant reduce drastically by 35. In vitro fertilization helps, but age plays a significant role here again. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the chances of becoming pregnant through IVF are less than 5% for women over 43 years. Sure, women are getting pregnant in their late 40s and 50s, but that’s usually through eggs donated by a younger woman.
If you’re planning to have kids at a later stage in life, opt for cryopreservation or egg freezing. The process literally involves saving eggs by storing organelles, cells, and tissues at freezing temperatures for future use.
Eating habits, weight, stress levels, smoking or drinking habits, OTC drugs, etc., are some of the lifestyle factors contributing to infertility. As a practicing gynecologist in Portland, I encounter plenty of young women who struggle with irregular periods and are likely to have trouble conceiving in the future. In fact, losing as little as 5-10% of body weight could restore the menstrual cycle and improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Similarly, women who smoke are three times more likely to have trouble conceiving. While moderate consumption is alright, excessive drinking could affect fertility. Recreational drugs, OTC drugs, like ibuprofen could affect ovulation. A recent Harvard study found that a diet rich in trans-fat, red and processed meat, sweets, potatoes, and sweetened beverages had a negative effect on fertility. Women trying to get pregnant naturally must include a diet rich in folic acid, vitamin B12, and Omega-3 fatty acids.
These are just two of the multiple reasons for infertility in women. Multiple other factors like genetics, medical conditions, hormones, etc., may cause infertility in women. Contact Dr. Noelle King for information, advice, or support if you struggle with fertility issues.