Posts Tagged ‘National Infertility Awareness Week’

How long will it take for me to get pregnant?

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Contemplative womanThe answer to this question depends on many factors and is very personal. Some people get pregnant the first month they try. For others, it takes longer. If you have been trying to conceive for a few months, you may just need more time. Most couples who try to get pregnant do so within one year. It may not happen immediately, but the odds are it will happen soon.

But if you have been trying to get pregnant for more than a year (or six months if you are 35 or over) and have not conceived, your health care provider may suggest you consult a reproductive endocrinologist. A reproductive endocrinologist is an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) who specializes in diagnosing and treating infertility.

Infertility means that the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction is impaired. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 8 couples of childbearing age have difficulty conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term.

There are many possible causes of infertility. If you do see a reproductive endocrinologist, both you and your partner will most likely need to undergo testing. Infertility affects men and women equally. And 25% of infertile couples have more than one factor that contributes to their infertility.

Risk factors

There are a number of risk factors for infertility. Many of them are the same for both men and women. They include:

  • Age. As you get older, your fertility will start to decline. Each woman is born with a set number of eggs. As you get older, you have fewer and fewer eggs, and the eggs you have aren’t easily fertilized by a man’s sperm. All this makes it harder for you to get pregnant. And men over age 40 may be less fertile than younger men.
  • Weight. Women who weigh too much or too little can have difficulty conceiving. And a man’s sperm count can be affected if he is overweight.
  • Smoking. Smoking reduces fertility for both men and women.  According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), up to 13% of female infertility is caused by cigarette smoking and women who smoke have an increased risk of miscarriage.
  • Alcohol use. There is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy. If you are trying to get pregnant, avoid alcohol. Heavy alcohol use in men can decrease both sperm count and motility (the ability of the sperm to swim towards the egg and fertilize it).

Treatment options

There are several kinds of fertility treatments. You, your partner, and your reproductive endocrinologist can decide which treatment gives you the best chance of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. Treatments include:

  • Surgery to repair parts of your or your partner’s reproductive system. For example, you may need surgery on your fallopian tubes to help your eggs travel from your ovaries to your uterus.
  • Controlled ovarian stimulation (also called COS). COS uses certain medicines to help your body ovulate and make healthier eggs.
  • In vitro fertilization (also called IVF). IVF is the most common kind of assisted reproductive technology (ART). In IVF, an egg and sperm are combined in a lab to create an embryo which is then transferred to the uterus.

You may be concerned that consulting a reproductive endocrinologist means you will need IVF.  Usually, this is not the case. In fact, 85-90% of infertility cases are treated with conventional therapies.

If you’ve been struggling to conceive, talk to your health care provider to learn about what you can do.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

One couple’s rocky road to parenthood

Monday, April 25th, 2016

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, we are grateful that one mom shared her story with us. We hope that her journey will inspire others who may be on this path.

couple w pregnancy testInfertility is a journey. And every journey looks different. Some end in happiness and some do not.

In early 2015, after 3 years of trying to get pregnant, my husband and I found out that we were expecting. After all of the roadblocks we had hit along the way, hearing, “you’re pregnant” was surreal. The pregnancy was not without challenges, and I was extremely paranoid that we would somehow lose this baby. I am happy to say that my son was born healthy at 38.5 weeks, albeit with a nearly week long NICU stay. But, this happy ending came after a journey of twists and turns and more downs than ups.

I’d wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember. . . That sounds so cliché, doesn’t it?

We were young and had only been married for a couple of years when we decided to start a family. We were so naïve and full of hope! I went off my birth control and started actively trying to have a baby. I read everything I could about getting pregnant and started charting my cycles.

When my cycles went from the perfectly timed 28 days to 60 and 70 days, I knew something was off. I did some reading and thought I might have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). (The beauty and danger of the internet!) PCOS happens when you have hormone problems along with cysts on the ovaries. I bought a book, went on a diet and started exercising. I learned everything I could about getting pregnant with PCOS and did my best to take control of my body.

After 6 months of trying to conceive with no luck, my doctor examined me, ran some tests (blood and ultrasound) and confirmed the PCOS diagnosis. She told me that she could write a prescription for Clomid to try and stimulate ovulation. But, she said that before I could start on the Clomid, my husband needed to have a semen analysis. (A large number of infertile couples have both female and male infertility issues, and they don’t want to unnecessarily medicate someone.)

To say that my husband was less than thrilled would be an understatement. It took me a few months to convince him to go for the test. He finally went and when we got the results back we were devastated. His sperm count was very low and the chances of conceiving on our own were basically zero. The doctors told us that they might be able to treat my husband and me, so that we could conceive. Little did we realize that this was just the beginning of years of doctors’ visits, but nevertheless, we jumped in with both feet.

Dealing with infertility can be all-consuming (at least it was for us). I would wake up and go to sleep thinking about it. There was never down time for my brain. I would see a pregnant woman or a couple with a baby and I would feel jealous, angry and sad. Hearing that other couples got pregnant without even trying was overwhelming. . . And the medical bills were never ending. Our insurance didn’t really cover any of our treatments so we paid almost all of it out-of-pocket. We were saving for a down payment on a house when we started trying to have a baby. And after the fertility treatments we were back to square one.

Through all of the doctors’ visits, blood work, ultrasounds and shots, I kept up the hope that someday I would be a mother.

Fast forward…

Now that we’re 6 months into being parents, I can say that I am thankful for my son every day. The first couple of months were incredibly challenging, and the idea that “maybe I wasn’t meant to have kids” crossed my mind frequently. But, I now revel in time spent with my son.

Although at the time, it seemed that the process of trying to conceive was going on and on, with no end in sight, I can say now that it is becoming a distant memory. The intense joy my husband and I feel every time we see the smile on our son’s face or see him hit another milestone, fills me with happiness and pushes the difficult journey of how we got here into the background.

I am sending baby dust to everyone out there struggling with infertility.

 

Please feel free to share your thoughts or personal story below.

 

National Infertility Awareness Week

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

April 24-30th is National Infertility Awareness Week, designed to raise awareness about the disease of infertility and encourage the public to take charge of their reproductive health.  Started by RESOLVE:  The National Infertility Association in 1989, the week brings together the professional family-building community, corporate partners and the media to 1) ensure that people trying to conceive know the guidelines for seeing a specialist when they are trying to conceive; 2) enhance public understanding that infertility is a disease that needs and deserves attention; and 3) educate legislators about the disease of infertility and how it impacts people in their state.

If you’re thinking about fertility treatment, read our information with a variety considerations including how do I know if I need a fertility specialist? How do I find one? What sorts of diagnosis and treatment options are there? What are the costs and will my insurance cover them? Where can I go for more information?  For more information and links to resources on the Awareness Week, click on this link.