A woman is considered to be infertile if she has not become pregnant after one year of actively trying to become pregnant. Infertility is thought to affect 10% of all women in the United States (www.womenshealt.gov). Infertility can be caused by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Primary Ovarian Insufficiency, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Endometriosis and Uterine Fibroids. Certain STDs can also impact a woman’s ability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term. Scar tissue from previous surgeries or ectopic pregnancies can also cause infertility in women. Aging also impacts a woman’s ability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term. After age 30, a woman’s ability to get to pregnant becomes more difficult each year. In addition stress, not being within a healthy weight range, smoking, drug or alcohol abuse and an unhealthy diet can contribute to infertility.
If you have been having sex regularly without birth control and have not become pregnant after one year, you should consult with your OBGYN. The doctor will want to know if you have been ovulating regularly. To do this you can either keep track of your daily morning body temperature, tracking how your cervical mucus appears or using ovulation test kits. Your doctor may order blood tests to detect ovulation or an ultrasound. Depending on the results of these tests your doctor may order a hysterosalpingography, which is an x-ray of the uterus and fallopian tubes. This x-ray can detect some types of scaring or other obstructions that could be causing infertility. Sometimes a laparoscopic surgery is needed to get a better look at what could be causing infertility.
The cause of your infertility will guide the treatment. Some women can successfully become pregnant, and carry to term with the use of hormone drugs. Another option to treat infertility is artificial insemination or assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in vitro fertilization. Some women have had success getting pregnant despite their infertility with the use of alternative medicine. Some women use alternative medicine in conjuncture with western medicine. Alternative medicine options include acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, massage, Reiki or homeopathy.
Some women find counseling to be helpful when struggling with infertility. Counseling can be used to:
- Cope with the stress of infertility and the related treatments
- Address any emotional barriers that could be contributing to infertility
- Explore the various fertility treatments and the impacts they may have on you and your partner
- Identify ways to increase social and emotional supports
- Help you and your partner decide what is best for your relationship given the specific options presented to you by your treating physician
- Help couples improve their sexual connection after the stress of infertility treatments