It’s not supposed to be this difficult to get pregnant, but it is the reality for many couples. Dealing with infertility can be very stressful and emotional for couples, but know that there is hope! About two-thirds of couples treated for infertility are able to successfully conceive.
Infertility is defined as the inability of a woman to conceive after a year of having unprotected sex, or the inability of a woman to sustain pregnancy. Infertility can be present from birth (congenital) or can be acquired. Your risk for infertility increases with age. Your lifestyle choices can also influence infertility. You are at a greater risk if you smoke, consume excess alcohol, or are overweight, obese or underweight.
There are several ways you can take control of your fertility.
Understand your cycle. Couples can increase their chances of conceiving with regular intercourse during the ovulation period: a couple of days before until a day after ovulation. Over-the-counter ovulation kits are available to help you determine the best timing. Most women ovulate about 14 days prior to their expected menses.
Take care of yourself. Women can make certain lifestyle changes such as performing regular moderate exercise, quitting smoking and use of narcotics, and limiting alcohol and caffeine to increase their chances of pregnancy. The health of the male partner plays a significant role in fertility. They also need to quit smoking and refrain from narcotics, limit alcohol, avoid high temperatures and environmental toxins, and exercise regularly.
See your doctor. There are many assisted reproductive treatment options available today. Your doctor will suggest a treatment suitable for your individual situation.
- Fertility drugs may be recommended to stimulate and regulate ovulation in women who are infertile due to ovarian disorders.
- You could also be recommended for assisted insemination, where healthy sperm is collected, concentrated and placed directly into your uterus to fertilize eggs during ovulation. This procedure is also known as intrauterine insemination (IUI), and can be in tandem with your normal menstrual cycle or fertility drugs.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a type of assisted reproductive technique, which involves collecting multiple mature eggs from a woman and fertilizing them with sperm outside the body, in the lab. The sperm is directly injected into a mature egg through a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
- Donor eggs or sperm may be used as part of IVF. Once fertilized, the embryos are implanted into the uterus within three to five days.
So if you’ve been trying to conceive for over a year, it’s time to seek help. Your doctor will be the best person to address your concerns and help you take control of your infertility.