Fertility frustration

couple on beachI usually blog about exercise and nutrition and how this can help or hinder fertility/pre pregnancy but Nikki the Midwife/Nurse overpowered Nikki the Personal Trainer and I felt an overwhelming urge to provide some education around the issue of infertility and the reasons behind why many women struggle with their fertility, so here goes. Some women want children but either cannot conceive or keep miscarrying. This is called infertility. Lots of couples have infertility problems. About one-third of the time, it is a female problem. In another one-third of cases, it is the man with the fertility problem. For the remaining one-third, both partners have fertility challenges or no cause is found.

Causes of infertility

Some common reasons for infertility in women include:

Age – Women generally have some decrease in fertility starting in their early 30s. And while many women in their 30s and 40s have no problems getting pregnant, fertility especially declines after age 35. As a woman ages, normal changes that occur in her ovaries and eggs make it harder to become pregnant. Even though menstrual cycles continue to be regular in a woman's 30s and 40s, the eggs that ovulate each month are of poorer quality than those from her 20s. It is harder to get pregnant when the eggs are poorer in quality. As a woman nears menopause, the ovaries may not release an egg each month, which also can make it harder to get pregnant. Also, as a woman and her eggs age, she is more likely to miscarry, as well as have a baby with genetic problems, such as Down syndrome.

Health problems – Some women have diseases or conditions that affect their hormone levels, which can cause infertility.

  • Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) rarely or never ovulate. Failure to ovulate is the most common cause of infertility in women.
  • With primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), a woman's ovaries stop working normally before she is 40. It is not the same as early menopause. Some women with POI get a period now and then. But getting pregnant is hard for women with POI.
  • A condition called luteal phase defect (LPD) is a failure of the uterine lining to be fully prepared for pregnancy. This can keep a fertilized egg from implanting or result in miscarriage.

Common problems with a woman's reproductive organs, like uterine fibroids, endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease can worsen with age and also affect fertility. These conditions might cause the fallopian tubes to be blocked, so the egg can't travel through the tubes into the uterus.

Lifestyle factors – Certain lifestyle factors also can have a negative effect on a woman's fertility. Examples include smoking, alcohol use, weighing much more or much less than an ideal body weight, a lot of strenuous exercise, and having an eating disorder. Stress also can affect fertility.

Unlike women, some men remain fertile into their 60s and 70s. But as men age, they might begin to have problems with the shape and movement of their sperm. They also have a slightly higher risk of sperm gene defects. Or they might produce no sperm, or too few sperm. Lifestyle choices also can affect the number and quality of a man's sperm. Alcohol and drugs can temporarily reduce sperm quality. And researchers are looking at whether environmental toxins, such as pesticides and lead, also may be to blame for some cases of infertility. Men also can have health problems that affect their sexual and reproductive function. These can include sexually transmitted infections (STIs), diabetes, surgery on the prostate gland, or a severe testicle injury or problem.

When to see your doctor

You should talk to your doctor about your fertility if:

  • You are younger than 35 and have not been able to conceive after one year of frequent sex without birth control.
  • You are age 35 or older and have not been able to conceive after six months of frequent sex without birth control.
  • You believe you or your partner might have fertility problems in the future (even before you begin trying to get pregnant).
  • You or your partner has a problem with sexual function or libido.

Happily, doctors are able to help many infertile couples go on to have babies.

Counselling and support groups

If you've been having problems getting pregnant, you know how frustrating it can feel. Not being able to get pregnant can be one of the most stressful experiences a couple has. Both counseling and support groups can help you and your partner talk about your feelings and help you meet other couples struggling with the same issues. You will learn that anger, grief, blame, guilt, and depression are all normal. Couples do survive infertility, and can become closer and stronger in the process. Ask your doctor for the names of counselors or therapists with an interest in fertility.

Our Registered Midwife, Clinical Nurse and Personal Trainer with over 4 years experience within the fertility sector will design you, your very own 12 week Fertility Friendly exercise program and nutritional program customised to your pre pregnancy needs including weight loss, hormonal balancing, regulating menstrual cycle and more.... Check out our programs here

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