When Should I See a Fertility Specialist?
6 Things That Suggest It’s Time to Seek Help
If you are having trouble conceiving, you are not alone. About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant.
Infertility is the inability to conceive after a year or longer of having unprotected sex. While some cases of infertility are caused by problems with ovulation, there are a number of other possible causes of infertility as well.
An infertility specialist can help determine whether there is an identifiable cause of infertility and provide the appropriate treatment once an evaluation has been completed. In many cases, infertility can be treated with medications or surgery. Treatment choice depends upon test results, the length of time a couple has been trying to conceive, the overall health of the couple and preferences of the partners.
Here are some reasons you might want to consider seeking a fertility specialist in your journey to starting a family.
You Have a Known Reproductive Issue
Some common medical conditions that can lead to infertility include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility and is a hormonal disorder that impacts the ability of a woman to ovulate regularly. If a woman is not ovulating regularly, it is challenging to conceive. Typically, PCOS is treated with oral or injectable medications that induce ovulation.
- Endometriosis: Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows elsewhere, such as in the ovaries, fallopian tube and other pelvic spaces. Treatment is individualized for each woman, but may include surgery.
- Uterine fibroids: Fibroids are benign tumors that grow in the muscle of the uterus and are a common finding in reproductive aged women. Although they may interfere with the ability of a woman to get pregnant or may lead to pregnancy loss, many women with fibroids are able to conceive and carry a pregnancy without difficulty. Treatment options for women who have fibroids and desire pregnancy vary.
- Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI): When a woman is under age 40 and her ovaries stop functioning normally, she is diagnosed with POI. The chance that a woman diagnosed with POI conceives is overall about five percent. Given the low likelihood of natural conception, egg donation with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) can be one of the most effective treatments for women with POI.
You’re Over 40
Given the state of current technology, it’s never been safer to give birth after the age of 40. However, there are risks and issues that may arise while trying to get pregnant. Aging affects egg quantity as well as egg quality. The decline in egg quality makes the chance of miscarriage higher in older women . You may consider consulting your physician before trying to conceive to discuss the risks.
You Have a Thyroid Condition
One in eight women will develop a thyroid issue during her lifetime, and up to 60 percent of those with thyroid issues are not aware of their condition. One of the most common thyroid conditions is an under-active thyroid, resulting in hypothyroidism. Low levels of thyroid hormone can cause irregular menstrual cycles and impact ovulation.
If you have a known thyroid issue, it’s important to monitor your thyroid hormone levels prior to getting pregnant. A fertility specialist can help increase your chances of getting pregnant, and work with you to monitor your thyroid hormone to promote a healthy pregnancy and reduce the risk of miscarriage.
You Have Had Multiple Miscarriages
Fifteen to 20 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Although losses are difficult to experience, miscarriages do not reflect infertility. If you experience two or more miscarriages, you may want to seek evaluation to determine whether there is an underlying identifiable cause. Miscarriages can be due to genetic issues, altered hormone levels, anatomic problems, cervical issues, infection or others underlying causes that may be able to be addressed with medical care.
You Have Been Diagnosed With Cancer
Cancer treatment can impact a woman’s ability to get pregnant depending on her age, type of treatment and dosage. If you have been recently diagnosed with cancer, you can take proactive measures to preserve fertility. If you have already undergone treatment, a fertility specialist would be provide an evaluation that helps determine whether fertility was impacted.
You’ve Been Trying for More Than a Year
If you have been trying to conceive for more than a year (or six months if you are over 35 years old), it is recommend that you undergo an evaluation. A fertility specialist can help determine why you are having difficulty and offer possible treatment options to help you conceive.