Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system generally defined as the inability to get pregnant or stay pregnant after one year (or longer) of regular unprotected sex.
In this article, I will review eight essential facts everybody should know about infertility.

1. Infertility is more common than you may think

If you are struggling to get pregnant, you are not alone. Infertility is very common. It is a global health issue affecting more than 48 millions couple worldwide. (1)
In the US, CDC data suggests that about 6% of married women aged 15 to 44 years are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying. (2)

2. Secondary infertility occurs at the same rate as primary infertility

While struggling to get pregnant for the first time is known as primary infertility, secondary infertility, on the other hand, is when a couple that has had at least one baby is having trouble conceiving after at least one year of trying. Many people think that once you have a baby, it’s easier to get pregnant again, but that is not the case. Secondary infertility likely occurs at the same rate and share many of the same causes as primary infertility. Secondary infertility can be confusing because you had no trouble getting pregnant for the first time.
If you know someone struggling with secondary infertility, here is something you should avoid saying: ” at least you have a child.”

3. Infertility is not just a woman’s problem

Women have carried the burden and shame of infertility for centuries. When a couple has a hard time getting pregnant, it is often thought that it is the woman’s problem. However, male infertility exists. According to the CDC, “about 35% of couples with infertility, a male factor is identified along with a female factor. In about 8% of couples with infertility, a male factor is the only identifiable cause.” (3)

As a result, it is recommended that both partners are tested for infertility when the couple is having trouble conceiving.

4. Age increases the risk of infertility

Age is an important factor affecting a woman’s chance to get pregnant and have a healthy baby. Your fertility decreases, especially when you are in your mid-30s.

Women’s eggs decline at a more rapid pace from the age of 35. The eggs are also likely to have abnormal chromosomes, such as balanced translocation, which may increase the risk of miscarriages. By the age of 45, it becomes very unlikely for a woman to conceive naturally.

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5. Your weight plays a role in your fertility

Being overweight or underweight can negatively impact your chances of getting pregnant. When you are severely underweight, your body produces less estrogen, which can affect ovulation. On the flip side, being overweight or obese can also reduce fertility by causing hormone imbalance, ovulation, and menstruation problems. If you are planning or trying to conceive, it is essential to maintain a healthy weight to increase your chances of getting pregnant. (3)

6. Your lifestyle can increase your risk of infertility

A number of lifestyle factors play an important role in the development of infertility. (4)

These include but are not limited to:

  • Smoking and drug use
  • Heavy drinking
  • Sedentary
  • Excessive exercising
  • Physical and psychological stress
  • Nutrition
  • Environmental and occupation exposures

All these lifestyle factors are modifiable. Therefore, it is essential to start good habits and ditch the bad ones to boost your fertility.

7. Infertility significantly affects mental health

Infertility is a life event that can bring a lot of psychological, social, and financial problems to an individual. It has a profound impact on mental health. The most common consequences of infertility include :

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Social isolation
  • Stigma
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Guilt

These symptoms are often exacerbated by demanding infertility treatments which can be unsuccessful sometimes.

In general, women experience more emotional distress than their partners. For infertile women, each monthly cycle is an emotional roller coaster and feels like an eternity. You feel like everyone is getting pregnant except you. Moreover, having your periods when you are hoping to be pregnant is like a ‘coup de grâce.’

The psychological burden that comes with infertility needs to be acknowledged. While many women try to cope on their own, you should know that it is perfectly normal to seek help from a support group, a counselor, or a therapist.

8. Treatment options are available

It is important to know that a diagnosis of infertility, as shocking as it might be, does not mean you can have a baby of your own. While it may be less likely to conceive naturally, some women diagnosed with infertility can get pregnant naturally.

There are also numerous treatments available for couples struggling with infertility. The fertility specialist will try to determine the infertility cause and discuss the potential solutions with you. Common treatments options include:

  • Hormone treatment
  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
  • In Vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Surgery to restore fertility

Final thoughts

Becoming parents happens naturally for many people. But for millions of couples that are dealing with infertility, the journey to parenthood is a hardship. Infertility is a subject that no one likes to talk but sharing your story help other in the same situation that they are not alone. When it comes to fertility, knowing when and where to seek help is critical. So if you are concern about your fertility, make an appointment with your OB/Gyn, who will evaluate and refer you to a fertility center if necessary.

References

  1. https://www.who.int/health-topics/infertility#tab=tab_1
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/index.htm
  3. https://arm.coloradowomenshealth.com/services/fertility-weight-loss/infertility-obesity-facts
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3717046/
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About the Author

Hermione M.

My name is Hermione. I am the founder of WomenH and I write about women's health, wellness, mental health, and personal growth. I created this platform to inspire women to take care of themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally to become their best selves. Thank you for stopping by.

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