Infertility is a disease, and if you have been diagnosed, you are not alone. According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 8 couples of childbearing age have difficulty conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term.
Infertility can be caused by many different things in men and women. It is important to see a specialist, such as a Reproductive Endocrinologist or urologist, or in some cases your OB/Gyn for a complete fertility work-up and diagnosis.
MEDICAL CONDITIONS THAT CAN LEAD TO INFERTILITY
Endometriosis is a disorder of the female reproductive system in which endometrial tissue (the normal lining of the uterus) is found outside the uterine cavity. An estimated three to five million American women of reproductive age suffer from endometriosis.
Luteal Phase Defect
Abnormalities in endometrial development — luteal phase defect (LPD) – are associated with infertility and early miscarriage. Luteal phase defect occurs when the endometrium is inadequately prepared, either because the secretion of progesterone by the ovary is below normal or because the endometrium isn’t responding to the normal stimulation by progesterone.
Miscarriage can leave you with deep- rooted feelings of loss and sorrow. These feelings must be confronted and dealt with, not suppressed, as is often urged by friends and family. It is important to take action and see an infertility specialist if you have experienced 2 or more miscarriages.
Approximately 30% of female infertility problems are the result of ovulation disorders. There are many factors that can affect ovulation, mainly pituitary causes.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a very common hormone disorder in women, a leading cause of infertility, and one of the most underdiagnosed diseases in the United States. PCOS is characterized by a myriad of seemingly unrelated symptoms and may include irregular or absent periods, lack of ovulation, weight gain, acne, excessive facial hair and infertility. Even more serious, women with PCOS may be at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and endometrial cancer, especially if PCOS is left untreated.
The term poor responder has been used to define women who require large doses of stimulation medications and who make less than an optimal number of eggs. There is no uniform definition of poor responders, but many clinics have used a cutoff of less than four mature oocytes at the time of hCG or a peak estradiol of less than 500.
Premature Ovarian Failure
Premature ovarian failure is defined as the cessation of menstrual periods before the age of 40. It occurs in 1 in 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 29 and 1 in 100 women between the ages of 30 and 39. The average age of onset is 27 years. Premature ovarian failure can be both shocking and devastating as there are relatively few treatment options.
Although many Americans are affected by the painful experience of secondary infertility, it generally remains an unacknowledged and invisible condition. Secondary infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more biological children.
30% of infertility is due a male problem such as structural abnormalities, sperm production disorders, ejaculatory disturbances and immunologic disorders.
Approximately one in five couples will experience unexplained infertility despite completing a full infertility work-up. The emotional response to hearing, “There is no apparent reason for your infertility” can be difficult, maddening and frustrating. Fortunately, there are many options available for the couple diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
Abnormalities of the uterus can have a significant impact on the ability of a woman to conceive and to carry a pregnancy successfully. Some women have an abnormally developed uterus from birth (congenital) while others may develop a uterine problem due to infection or surgery (acquired).