Infertility is a more common problem than most people realize. Approximately 10 percent of women in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant.
A number of conditions and issues can contribute to a woman’s inability to conceive. In most cases, infertility issues are caused by problems with ovulation. If you have irregular or absent menstrual periods, this could be an indication that you are not ovulating normally. This could be caused by polycystic ovary syndrome, blocked fallopian tubes or problems with the uterus.
Other existing medical conditions may also play a role in your fertility. In some cases, thyroid disorders can interrupt your menstrual cycle or cause infertility. If you have been diagnosed with cancer and have undergone treatment, this can also impair fertility. Other medical issues that delayed puberty or have created an absence of menstruation, like diabetes, celiac disease, Cushing’s disease or kidney disease, can also affect fertility.
Age definitely plays a role in female fertility. An older woman’s eggs aren’t fertilized as easily as a younger woman’s eggs. She has a smaller number of eggs left, and they are not as healthy.
Several common medications can help treat infertility. These medications often help women who have ovulation problems. They can, however, increase the chance of having twins, triplets or other multiples.
Several factors can change your ability to have a baby, and some are within your control:
- Maintain a healthy weight. – Being overweight or significantly underweight can affect hormone production and prevent normal ovulation. Staying within a healthy weight range will increase your chance of getting pregnant.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. – While there are not specific foods that will increase your likelihood of conceiving, good nutrition is an important part of preconception care. You should also be sure to include a daily prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid.
- Manage stress. – Research has shown that stress can lower the odds of conception. Try to avoid high-stress situations or practice stress-reducing techniques that allow you to unwind.
- Don’t miss your regular checkups. – If you make regular visitors to your doctor, he/she can help you detect or manage any existing health conditions that could play a role in your fertility.
If you are concerned about getting pregnant, don’t forget to take care of yourself. You want to create a healthy environment for your baby for nine months!
Learn more about the Fertility and Reproductive Endocrinology Clinic at UAMS.