There are few greater joys than seeing your dream become a reality through a positive pregnancy test and there are few greater devastations than seeing multiple negative pregnancy tests over the course of a year spent trying to make that dream come true. At Shenandoah Women’s Healthcare in Harrisonburg, VA, we offer fertility care and support so that you can get answers regarding your infertility and learn what your options are.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for months on end but have been unsuccessful, we can help. We know that this is something you can try to face on your own for only so long, which is why when you choose our office, we’ll walk with you through each step of the process, from determining if you are infertile and what your next steps are.
What Is Infertility?
Infertility is a topic that has been getting more attention in recent years. Something you may have only heard about vaguely years ago may now be something that directly impacts you or someone close to you. Even still, you may be wondering what the parameters are. What actually qualifies you as technically infertile?
Infertility is clinically defined as the inability to become pregnant after unsuccessfully trying to conceive for 12 months or longer. Infertility can be permanent or it can be temporary. Your ability to become pregnant depends on many factors, including your age, your health history, your genetics, your reproductive health, and the health and fertility of your partner. Some factors that can affect your fertility include the following:
- You or your partner have a history of STD’s
- There are miscarriages in your family history
- You have the symptoms of or have been diagnosed with endometriosis
- Family history of premature menopause
- There is a history of the premature onset of menopause in your family history
- You have low sperm count, poor sperm function, or poor-quality sperm
- You experience the symptoms of erectile dysfunction
When Should I Seek Out Fertility Care?
Women can be very intuitive when it comes to their bodies. This is true regarding fertility, among other things. Some women just know when something isn’t right; they can feel it deep down and naturally, they seek out help through fertility care. Some women wait until their doctor advises them to see a fertility specialist, while others just wait, hoping that this month will be the month and they’ll get pregnant.
If you have been trying for 12 months or more to get pregnant and haven’t been successful, it may be time to consider fertility care to help you make your pregnancy dreams come true. There are two primary factors that can help determine that it’s the right time for you to seek outside help through a fertility specialist. These factors have everything to do with your age and how long you’ve been trying to get pregnant.
You’re Younger Than 35 and Have Been Trying To Get Pregnant for 12 Months
You’re under 35 and you’ve been trying to get pregnant. You’ve spent the last 12 months trying, dreaming, and hoping, only to be disappointed with each and every negative pregnancy test month after month.
If you’ve been charting your cycle, doing everything right, and attempting to conceive at the optimal time during your ovulation window, but still are unable to become pregnant, you may qualify as infertile and need to seek outside help from a fertility care specialist. When you finally take the first step and seek outside help for your concerns, you’ll be able to get answers that much sooner.
You’re Older than 35 and Have Been Trying To Get Pregnant for 6 Months
Today, many women are waiting to get pregnant until much later in life. Some get married later and others are choosing to frontload their time in their 20’s and 30’s to focus on their careers. Some women get pregnant as soon as they first try, despite being 35 or older. Others aren’t so lucky. Age does play a factor in pregnancy. It’s a proven fact that your chances of getting pregnant after the age of 30 decrease three to five percent each year.
By 35 or older, your chances of getting pregnant aren’t as high as they were 10 years ago. If you are over 35, have been actively trying to get pregnant for six months but have been unsuccessful, you should strongly consider seeking outside help through a fertility specialist. At 35 or older, you don’t have as many eggs as you used to. The sooner you seek fertility care, the sooner you can get answers and direction so that you can make an informed decision.
What Causes Infertility?
Infertility affects both men and women. It can affect one or both partners, but the causes of infertility are different in men than they are in women. There are some shared risk factors that affect men and women, but generally, the causes of infertility in men and women are different.
Infertility In Women
The Risk Factors
There are several factors that come into play when it comes to infertility in women. Despite all that is currently known about infertility, there are also still many unknowns. For some, infertility doesn’t play by the book and occurs for an unknown reason. For others, there are risk factors that lead to infertility. The most common risk factors that affect and help cause infertility include:
- You have a history of sexually transmitted diseases
- You are a smoker
- You consume an excessive amount of alcohol
- You are overweight or underweight
- You are 35 or older
There are other issues aside from these risk factors that also affect a woman’s fertility. Genetics, the aging process, hormonal imbalances, damage to the reproductive organs, and diseases like PCOS and endometriosis all impact fertility.
The Birth Control Factor
Some women who have spent decades on birth control can experience temporary infertility after they stop taking that daily pill as their body gets back into a normal reproductive rhythm. When you take birth control, every aspect of reproduction is stifled, which is the goal. However, when you stop, sometimes your body needs more time to adjust and return to a regular reproductive pattern.
Infertility In Men
When many people think about infertility, they often define it as a woman’s inability to get pregnant. Very often, a couple can be facing infertility and the woman is perfectly fertile, but the man is not. It affects both men and women, and whatever the case, we can help. Infertility can affect men of all ages, but, as with women, it increases with age. The following factors can cause infertility in men:
- Low sperm count
- Poor quality sperm
- Poor sperm function
- Enlarged veins in the testes
- The effects of STD’s
- Health problems
- Undescended testicles
If you are a man who is or thinks you may be infertile, we can help. We’ll help answer your questions, help draw some definitive conclusions regarding your situation, and walk with you and your partner through this journey.
The Elements of Conception
Conception is a highly specialized process. Pregnancy and childbirth are referred both to as miracles because they are. A lot needs to happen at the perfect moment in time for a successful conception and pregnancy. For conception and eventually, a viable pregnancy to occur, certain steps must take place, completely uninterrupted.
First, you must have at least one capable ovary that can release a healthy egg for fertilization. Then, the healthy egg needs to enter a healthy fallopian tube. Once it reaches the fallopian tube, it needs to be fertilized by the sperm. Then, the newly fertilized egg needs to make a successful journey from your fallopian tube to your uterus. A successful pregnancy can only occur only when that fertilized egg attaches to the uterine walls and begins to grow.
If any of these steps are interrupted or don”t go according to plan, pregnancy won’t occur. Many factors both within and outside of your control can interrupt this process, leading to infertility. Understanding this complicated process can feel discouraging, but doesn’t have to be. We can use the steps in the process to help determine what is and isn’t happening in your body.
Your Journey Doesn’t End Here
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant unsuccessfully, these steps have been interrupted by something, but it’s not the end of your journey. We are dedicated to helping you get answers. We want to help you overcome infertility if possible, and if not, help you work through it so that you can someday, sooner than later, hold that baby in your arms. We’ll provide you with all the options so that you can make an educated choice that is right for you.
What Happens During an Appointment With a Specialist?
If you’ve never seen a fertility specialist before, you can rest assured that it won’t be anything like your annual visit with your gynecologist. During your first visit, we will sit down with you and begin the diagnosis process. We’ll review your health history and discuss any pertinent factors regarding your health and your age that could be causing temporary or permanent infertility.
The Testing Process
If you are under 35 and have been unsuccessful while trying to conceive for 12 months or more, or if you’re over 35 and have been unsuccessful while trying for six months, we will begin our evaluation process. We’ll start with a series of tests so that we can get some answers. These tests include:
- A blood test, ultrasound exam, or ovulation predictor to determine if you are ovulating
- A fertility x-ray called a hysterosalpingogram to examine your fallopian tubes and your uterus
Once your results come back, we’ll be able to provide you with all of the information we’ve gathered and walk you through your options so that you can make an informed decision regarding your next steps. We know the devastation that the inability to conceive naturally can cause. We want to help your dreams become a reality and the first step is addressing the root cause of your infertility so that we can help you take the next step.
Schedule Your First Appointment
If you’ve been struggling with infertility, don’t waste another day hoping that your test will show up positive. Contact us today at Shenandoah Women’s Healthcare in Harrisonburg, VA, and schedule your initial fertility care appointment with one of our experts who are waiting to walk through this process with you.