Signs of infertility are really straightforward: Either a couple conceives or they don’t – and if they don’t for over a year – this is a sign of infertility.
Several reasons for women’s diminished fertility with advancing age include a reduced health of their eggs and a reduced ability of their ovaries to release them. There’s also an increased risk of fertility-reducing health issues and miscarriage risks with age.
A woman’s highest fertility is in her 20’s, with her 30’s being a time when she is still relatively fertile. She will start having difficulty conceiving as she gets into her mid to upper 30’s. Miscarriage risks start to come into play in her late 30’s. Fertility decreases appreciably in smokers and drinkers. With more women choosing careers today that put off child-rearing, aging has become the primary reason for infertility.
When women fail to conceive after a whole year of intercourse, they are considered to fall in the Primary Infertility category. If they have conceived once before but have gone a year without conceiving (while trying the whole year), they are considered to be in the Secondary Infertility category.
Infertility issues plague both men and women equally, according to some experts, while others say women comprise sixty percent. Statistics show that ten percent of actively trying couples have trouble conceiving, with four of five conceiving within a year. A “normal” amount of time to conceive is considered to be up to two years.
Complete physical exams are necessary for many couples, in order to assess their fertility levels. Since males have a large percentage of the fertility issues (even if it is less than fifty percent), it is important that both partners be tested.
As a baseline for later comparison, one of the first tests done will be a woman’s LH – or Luteinizing Hormone and her FSH – or Follicle Stimulating Hormone. Normally, these tests are done on a woman’s first visit and her third visit to the specialist. The tests for these two hormones – LH and FSH – can also be performed on the male as well, if deemed appropriate by the fertility specialist. These hormones are both critical for the development of sperm cells.
There are many other fertility tests available to the fertility specialist. Some of these – for the female – are the cervical mucus test, hormone tests (other than LH or FSH), and ultrasound tests. The cervical mucus test is done less often now, but sometimes it’s done because the male does not want to be tested. For this test, two to eight hours after intercourse, the doctor will test the vaginal mucus for the presence and health of sperm.
Ultrasounds are a good way to for the fertility specialist to examine the condition of the uterus, ovaries, and cervix without complicated and invasive examination techniques. Ultrasound can also be utilized to determine if ovulation has occurred.
Reproductive Endocrinologists can test for many other important hormones, other than just the luteinizing hormone and the follicle stimulating hormone. The primary ones are: androstenedione, DHEAS, total testosterone, progesterone, estradiol, prolactin, free T3, and free testosterone.
Treating infertility is a subject for an entire series of articles, but in a nutshell, infertility treatments run the gamut from simple drugs to surgery. Infertility treatments can get very expensive and time-consuming – and rarely covered by insurance, so it boils down to how bad a couple wants to conceive. Certain treatable infertility problems include Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS, which is treated with the drugs clomiphene and metformin together.
Another drug treatment for infertility (for the female again) is clomiphene for ovulation problems – inability to ovulate. Hormone shots are the next thing that a woman can try, although these can have unpleasant side effects such as bloating and feeling sick. But one of the most significant side effects of hormone therapy is having triplets or more babies.
There are other infertility treatments, but one of the most intense and expensive is IVF, or in vitro fertilization. If you decide to go this route, you should know that acupuncture (by professionals trained specifically in acupuncture fertility therapy) has proven to increase the success rate of IVF pregnancies. Be aware, however, that IVF also increases the chance of multiple births: 1 in 3 IVF couples will be parents of twins.
Janet has been writing helpful articles on fertility and pregnancy for years. Discover more about the signs of infertility and ways to track fertility with innovative solutions such as the Clear blue Fertility Monitor and other helpful tips on the website.
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