Whether you’ve had a baby before or not, or whether you’ve used birth control in the past or not, having trouble conceiving is a fairly common problem. More than 10% of women in the United States between the ages of 15 and 44 years experience difficulties getting or staying pregnant.
Among women who are 35 or older, up to a third have trouble with infertility. By the time they’re 40, most women can’t get pregnant without reproductive assistance.
At Enrich Family Practice in Odessa, Texas, our nurse practitioners Maria Cole, APRN, FNP-C, and Kelly Wenger, APRN, FNP-C, provide fertility support if you’re hoping to become pregnant. If you don’t get pregnant within one year of having regular, unprotected sex (or after 6 months if you’re over 35), we offer an infertility workup and treatment.
The following are seven common reasons why you’re having difficulty conceiving.
1. You’re not producing eggs regularly
When your reproductive system is working as it should, your ovaries ripen and release at least one egg (i.e., ovulate) per menstrual cycle. One of the most common reasons for not getting pregnant within a few months is that you’re not ovulating normally or regularly.
Our nurse practitioners look at your cycle and also evaluate your hormones with a blood test. Women who have a hormonal condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may benefit from taking a drug called Clomid, which stimulates ovulation.
2. You have structural abnormalities
During your infertility workup, we conduct a pelvic exam to detect any abnormalities in your reproductive system. We also may order an ultrasound or other tests to determine if you have:
- Uterine fibroids
- Ovarian cysts
- Blocked fallopian tubes
Most structural abnormalities can be resolved with simple in-office procedures or surgical correction.
3. You have hormonal imbalances
Your body produces an array of hormones, each of which is important in conceiving a child and carrying it to term. Our team looks for low or elevated levels of:
- Follicle-stimulating hormone
- Luteinizing hormone
- Anti-Mullerian hormone
- Thyroid 3 and 4
Depending on the results of your tests, we may recommend lifestyle changes, such as losing or gaining weight. We may also prescribe medications or hormone supplements, such as synthetic thyroid.
4. Your ovarian reserve is low
Your ovaries are filled with millions of eggs when you’re young. But as you age, they begin to dwindle. By the time you’re 51 years old, you probably only have about 1,000 eggs left.
Sometimes younger women have far fewer eggs than they should at their age, a condition known as primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). If you have low ovarian reserves, we may refer you to a fertility clinic for assisted reproductive technology (ART), including egg donation.
5. You’re overweight or underweight
Your body needs to be at a healthy weight, and you must have healthy habits, in order to increase your chance of getting pregnant. Our nurse practitioners can recommend dietary changes and exercise routines to help you reach a healthy weight.
While women who are obese or overweight may not be exercising enough, women who are underweight may be exercising too much. Excessive exercise can stop your period, and cause your body to stop producing eggs.
6. Your partner’s sperm is abnormal
In almost 10% of cases, your male partner’s sperm or reproductive tract have abnormalities that prevent you from becoming pregnant. In about a third of infertile couples, both partners have fertility issues. At Enrich Family Practice, we conduct a semen analysis to determine if your partner has:
- Enough sperm
- Healthy sperm
- Blockages or other abnormalities
If your partner’s sperm is healthy but his sperm count is low, we may be able to perform intrauterine insemination (IUI) in our office. You might also consider using donor sperm for IUI if your partner’s sperm count is very low or if his sperm is too slow or malformed.
7. It’s your environment or your lifestyle
Our increasingly toxic environment doesn’t just affect your health, it can affect your ability to get pregnant. If you live or work in a polluted area, or if you’re exposed to certain types of chemicals, you may have trouble conceiving.
Taking prescription medications, using drugs or alcohol, and smoking can also affect your fertility. So does eating an unhealthy diet that emphasizes processed foods instead of fresh vegetables, fruits, and high-quality protein. We work with you to improve your lifestyle choices and environment to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.
If you’re hoping to get pregnant soon, contact us about fertility support. If you’re having infertility problems, call our team at 432-200-9087 or use our online message form.