The possibility of infertility can be a source of significant anxiety. With so much uncertainty surrounding pregnancy, it can be difficult to parse through all the questions you may have when treating infertility. Is it me or my partner? Why am I dealing with infertility? What can I do about it?
First of all, we want you to know that you’re not alone. Infertility and the problems associated with it affect millions of Americans each year. Many of those affected can go on to receive treatment that makes pregnancy possible. At the Memphis Obstetrics and Gynecological Association, we want you to feel that you’ve found a resource that extends beyond basic prenatal care. That’s why we’ve outlined some of the questions that most commonly come up regarding this sensitive topic, including a few of the courses of treatment available. Read on to learn more!
What Causes Infertility?
Infertility can affect men and women of any age or background. Our focus today is on female infertility, which affects roughly 11% of all women to some degree during their lifetimes, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Lifestyle factors such as drug use, alcohol abuse, smoking, obesity and excessive stress are all linked to infertility in women. Aside from external factors such as these, however, there is a correlation between certain genetic predispositions. These include chromosomal abnormalities like deletion (where a piece of a chromosome is missing), inversion (where it is upside down), mutation, aneuploidy (in which chromosomes are either too many or too few), and translocation (chromosome is out of place) can all lead to infertility. Current or past health factors such as ovarian cysts are a risk factor, as well as endometriosis, ovarian cancer, diabetes, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
If you suffer from any of the preceding risk factors, it is vital that you communicate this to your doctor.
How Do I Treat Infertility?
First, we need to determine that you have infertility. This is characterized by failure to conceive within a year of trying. After a year or more of trying, a specialist should be consulted. Also, if you are over 35 or have any previously-discussed conditions or risk factors, you may want to reach out sooner.
Treating Female Infertility
Several safe and effective options are available to women struggling with infertility. Your doctor will work with you to choose the best course of action for your particular case. Controlling lifestyle factors is a common first step. That means reducing stress, losing weight, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake.
Fertility drugs may be prescribed as a next step. These drugs work by simulating the action of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones are responsible for encouraging ovulation and pregnancy and are often depressed in infertility cases. Your doctor may also prescribe drugs that serve to overcome insulin resistance or prolactin overproduction, each of which can lead to infertility in women.
Another course of action, taken in conjunction with fertility-enhancing drugs, involves intrauterine or in-vitro insemination (IUI or IVF) treatments.
In the case of IUI, a catheter is passed through the cervix to the uterus containing sperm to ensure a high chance of fertilization. In vitro fertilization, on the other hand, involves external fertilization of one or multiple eggs, which are then attached to the uterine wall. These procedures are often very effective at stimulating a successful pregnancy. IVF has a much higher success rate but is considerably more expensive and invasive than IUI, so that method is often tried first.
Still have questions? Give us a call.
Here at the Memphis Obstetrics & Gynecological Association, we know infertility can be a sensitive issue, but it’s one that you don’t have to go through alone. Our experts are available to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. The only mistake you can make when it comes to infertility is doing nothing! We have convenient locations in Memphis, Germantown, Bartlett, and Southaven, so wherever you are, you can get help where and when you need it.