If you’ve been trying to become pregnant for some time without success, you may be wondering whether infertility is a factor. Infertility can affect both women and men and is defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.
Understanding whether or not you fit the clinical criteria for infertility can be helpful for deciding if and when it’s time to explore treatment options. But infertility also comes with emotional challenges that may leave you feeling isolated. Knowing that you’re not alone in your struggles may provide some comfort as you move forward.
How Common Is Infertility?
According to the National Infertility Association, one in eight couples have difficulty getting pregnant. But infertility could be even more prevalent, as the CDC reports that roughly one in five heterosexual women are unable to get pregnant after trying for one year.
Infertility isn’t just a challenge for women, however. The root causes are evenly distributed between genders: one-third of cases are attributed to female health factors, while another third are due to male health factors. Another third of cases are either unexplained or caused by a combination of factors in both partners.
Regardless of the cause, conversation about infertility has increased in the last several decades, in part because the taboos around discussing the challenges of pregnancy have increasingly lifted. Even our very own OBGYN, Dr. Jessie Bender has experienced infertility and has used the IVF process to conceive her children.
“I had to use IVF to conceive, so I can relate to the many highs and lows that come with infertility. While this is a very challenging process, I feel it has given me a tool to be a better OBGYN, especially with my patients struggling to get pregnant. I can empathize with them on an emotional level and also explain how the science of this process makes their dreams possible,” says Dr. Bender.
In the last 50 years, significant advancements have also been made in the world of assisted reproductive technology (ART), including the first baby born via in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 1978. Advocacy for the infertility community has furthered these technological developments, with support communities such as Resolve offering online and locally-based resources for infertile individuals and couples.
Dealing with Infertility: Where to Start
Simply knowing you’re in good company isn’t enough to make infertility go away. The good news is that there are many options to pursue.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for over a year, the first step is to schedule an appointment with one of our providers. We’ll discuss options to diagnose possible causes for infertility, which will then help to inform treatment options.
The potential reasons for infertility in both men and women range from structural abnormalities to physiological disorders. In heterosexual couples, a semen analysis can often uncover infertility in men caused by factors such as impaired motility (movement) or abnormal sperm shape. In women, imaging tests may be used to identify issues with reproductive organs and surrounding tissue that could be contributing factors.
Fortunately, treatments can be tailored to address all of these causes. Partners’ ages and personal preferences may also be used to determine the best treatment options. In some cases, addressing the underlying causes of infertility may result in a viable, natural pregnancy. In others, pursuing ART such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF may be necessary.
Here at Covington Women’s Health Specialists, we understand how difficult it can be when your plans to start a family are unexpectedly put on hold. Our providers are ready to help you explore treatment options to fulfill your dream of having a child. Schedule a consultation today by calling (770) 385-8954, or fill out an appointment request form online.