Monday 7 November 2011

What is Infertility?

What is infertility?

Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying, or, six months, if a woman is 35 years of age or older.

How does pregnancy occur?

Pregnancy is the result of a process that has many steps. To get pregnant—
· A woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation).
· The egg must go through a fallopian tube toward the uterus (womb).
· A man's sperm must join with (fertilize) the egg along the way.
· The fertilized egg must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation).
Infertility can happen if there are problems with any of these steps.

When Should I Get Help for Female Infertility?

It can take up to a year for a woman to get pregnant. This is considered normal. Most health care providers suggest a woman try for a year before seeking infertility testing. It is a good idea, though, to go to a health care provider to discuss pre-pregnancy health before starting to try to get pregnant.
Certain health problems can make getting pregnant more difficult. Don’t wait a whole year of trying to get pregnant before talking with your health care provider if you have a history of
· ectopic pregnancy
· irregular periods
· pelvic inflammatory disease
· repeated miscarriages
· thyroid problems

What is Secondary Infertility?

Secondary infertility is defined as infertility affecting couples who have had at least one child previously. Unfortunately, couples suffering with secondary infertility don't often get the help and support they need from doctors, friends and family because they aren't perceived as truly infertile since they've already had children.

What are the causes of Secondary Infertility?

There are many reasons that may explain why a couple is suffering with secondary infertility. A woman's fertility can change or be affected after having a child, even if she had no problem becoming pregnant the first or second time. Infection such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can cause damage to the fallopian tubes, making it difficult for fertilization to occur, or increasing the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
Weight gain and an unhealthy diet can also affect your fertility. Gaining even a small amount of weight can throw your hormones off balance, affecting your menstrual cycles. If you are not ovulating, or ovulating irregularly, it may also be difficult to get pregnant. Endometriosis and fibroids are also contributing factors to secondary infertility.
Age can contribute to secondary infertility as well. With more women waiting to have their first child until well into their 30s, your fertility may have decreased significantly in the years between your first pregnancy, and attempting your second. Research shows that a woman's fertility begins a steady decline even in your late 20s and early 30s. (See age and Infertility) While this doesn't mean that you can't get pregnant, you may have a harder time conceiving and have an increased risk of miscarriage due to aging eggs. In addition to your fertility, your partner's fertility is also affected by age, thus contributing to secondary infertility.

When should I seek treatment?

If you are under 35, you aren't considered to have fertility problems until you've tried unsuccessfully for at least a year to get pregnant. This means that you've been having regular, unprotected sex for at least 12 months. If you're over 35, you should seek the treatment of a doctor after six months of trying. Repeated miscarriages, infection and irregular cycles are all reasons to speak to a doctor earlier. You will require an assessment of your current health, as well as tests to assess your reproductive status. (See Investigations for Infertility). Depending on the cause of the secondary infertility, you might be recommended a variety of fertility treatments.
If you feel that you are having trouble, or you may have trouble getting pregnant, don't hesitate to speak with your doctor at anytime.

What is the first step in seeking treatment?

The first step for many couples seeking medical treatment for infertility is to discuss their inability to conceive with an Infertility Specialist. The Infertility Specialist will review the couple's medical history and conduct a complete physical examination of the female. The evaluation of the male's medical history includes a discussion of previous pregnancies, developmental problems, surgeries, testicular trauma or infections and environmental exposure. The female medical history includes review of previous pregnancies, painful periods or pelvic pain, infections and previous surgeries.

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