the fertility advocate

Talking, writing, educating, and change making in the field of fertility for more than twenty years

Interpreting The Red Flags, Flashing Lights and Other Warning Signs of Infertility

Conventional wisdom has it that if after a year of unprotected sex ,  if a  couple hasn’t produced a pregnancy, they’re officially “infertile”.  It’s an okay rule of thumb,  if you’ve got a year to wait and many of us don’t – and you can manage to live through a year’s worth of anxiety and disappointment without crying a bucket of tears (most of us can’t).  When you begin to feel of that common doubt – “Are we experiencing infertility” that’s when it’s time to tack the issue head on.

Let’s start with some basic facts. Infertility is not uncommon. One out of every 10 couples in the U.S. is infertile. That translates to more than six million people running into problems conceiving and bearing a child. Of those,  40% will find a male factor, 40% will discover a female factor, 10% will learn that both partners have something going on and the remaining 10% won’t get an answer at all, it’ll remain a mystery.

That’s statistical landscape. Now your got to plug in your individual circumstances into the equation to make an informed decision about if and when you should get help of a reproductive endocrinologist.  There are simple and effective diagnostic tools to help you analyze your situation and figure out the best course of action. The key here is to get proactive and not ignore possible infertility.  Take control. and help yourselves make the difference.

When Is It Time To Rip Up The Calendar: Reasons to Get Help Now:

AGE. Maternal age is probably the single most important element to consider right off the bat (other than establishing the presence of eggs and sperm, that is).  The bald fact is that a woman’s fertility diminishes with the years. Its decline begins even before the age of 30, becoming more pronounced after 35 and plunging after 39. The reason is simple. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. Over time, that ova supply get depleted. The remaining eggs age right along with the rest of the body. That means, if the prospective mother is 35 or older, give nature no more time than six months before consulting an expert.  Some very fabulous experts are even offering free consultations so there is no reason to wait.

Know Your Health History:

Illnesses (past and present), diseases, conditions, surgeries and medications can all pack a powerful wallop to your reproductive systems. So make a detailed medical dossier for both partners  Don’t leave out anything. If you’re putting checks in the yes column, get to a doctor.

Abnormal sexual or reproductive function. Irregular menstrual cycles and difficulty achieving or maintaining erections indicate conception will likely require some form of medical intervention.

Chronic illnesses and syndromes. Diabetes, hypothyroidism, hypertension, even peptic ulcers contribute to infertility. Sometimes it is the disease itself. For example, in women, diabetes or PCOS often result in ovulatory dysfunction.  Left untreated endometriosis (endometrial tissue that grows outside of the uterus) leads to scarring and blockages and impairs fertility. Sometimes it is the treatment of a disease which can contribute to infertility. Antidepressants, insulin and thyroid hormones can cause irregular menstrual cycles. Tagamet, used for peptic ulcers, can inhibit sperm production, high blood pressure meds, may interfere with eh sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg.

Past Illnesses, treatments and surgeries. Did he have mumps around the time of puberty? Or radiation treatment for a cancer like Hodgekin’s? Those have a negative impact on sperm production. You can check sperm count easily with a new over the counter test called SpermCheck.  Did she have pelvic or abdominal surgery, including an appendectomy? Those can cause pelvic adhesions that inhibit conception or  can result in ectopic pregnancies. Standard D & C’s , even the extended use of an IUD can scare the uterus, with repeated miscarriages a possible consequence.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Any STD – gonorrhea, chlamydia or herpes – no matter how long ago – is a trouble sign. STD’s compromise male and, especially female reproductive systems with scarring of delicate ducts and tissue. Even herpes, which does not cause infertility, co-exists with microorganisms which can compromise the ability of the uterus to support a pregnancy.

Environmental and workplace factors. Exposure to radiation, chemicals, particularly pesticides can have a deleterious effect on male sexual function and sperm production. Women working with chemicals solvents, nitrous oxide, vinyl chloride, for instance, may be at risk for early miscarriage.

Help yourself. After you’ve taken that inventory and the resulting profile looks good, you still want to do everything possible to stack the odds in your favor. More on that tomorrow. You can boost your chances at conception at home – but that is another blog for tomorrow. Reproduction, as you by now deduced is one of the bodies most subtle and complex functions. If you want to learn more,  or get the one on one assistance of a fertility coach, shoot me an email – and we can arrange a free consultation.

About Pam Madsen
Talking, writing, educating and change making in the field of fertility for more than twenty years
2 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Thank you for laying this out so clearly above. I was also listening to you today, for the second time, on WISH with Tera Warner. What a great interview! You also mention a little about what you wrote above with Tera, which I think always helps women on this journey. Thanks for all your incredible wisdom in this field!

  2. I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve never heard that past STI’s make it harder to get pregnant. Can you please quote the source. I worry sometimes that these statements, unless they are statistically significant, do more to scare people than is helpful. I got herpes when I was 16, from my first lover and I went on to conceive 10 times (5 abortions, 3 babies, 2 early miscarriages), the last one being when I was 47! Thank you for letting me know the source.

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