On a recent episode of Healthful Woman, reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Susan Lobel explained when couples should seek treatment for infertility. Many patients have questions regarding infertility and how long they should wait before visiting an OB/GYN. Here are some of the basics on infertility and when you should make an appointment.
Many people may not suspect they will struggle with infertility until they have difficulty getting pregnant for some time, as this is the primary symptom. However, some women may be able to predict they will struggle with infertility due to an irregular or absent menstrual period. Men may also be able to predict infertility due to hormonal issues, especially if these lead to issues like changes in hair growth or sexual dysfunction.
Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of infertility. These include age, tobacco or alcohol use, and being overweight or underweight. In some cases, excessive stress can also result in an increased risk for infertility.
Dr. Lobel explains that the chance of conceiving each month for couples who have no fertility issues is about 20%, so it can take time to get pregnant even with no problems present. If patients women are under 35 and have no known health concerns that would affect their fertility, most OB/GYNs or reproductive endocrinologists recommend that patients they try to conceive for about a year before seeking care. Women who are over 35 may seek infertility treatment after six months.
Some common causes of infertility include irregular ovulation, decreased sperm production, and issues with the uterus or fallopian tubes.
Ovulation disorders can be caused by various issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid issues including hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. These make it difficult to predict when a woman is ovulating or cause her to have trouble ovulating.
Issues with the uterus and fallopian tubes may include:
- Fallopian tube blockage or damage
- Bicornuate (heart-shaped) uterus
- Uterine fibroids or polyps
There are many treatment options for infertility, depending on the cause for a couple’s inability to get pregnant. In some cases, changing certain lifestyle habits and improving overall health can increase fertility. Other patients may require medication. For example, hormonal imbalances can be treated through medications.
For other patients, IVF is a common treatment option. IVF, or in vitro fertilization, involves collecting eggs and sperm to be fertilized in a lab and later transferred directly to the uterus. IVF is commonly recommended for patients struggling with complications in the uterus or low sperm counts. Multiple cycles of IVF may be necessary.
If you are struggling with infertility, schedule an appointment with Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates of New York City by calling (212) 235-1335 or requesting your appointment through our online form.
Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!