What is infertility?
Infertility refers to an inability to get pregnant, usually after one year of trying (or six months if you are 35 or older). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6.1 million (nearly 10%) of women in the U.S. have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile.
In order to get pregnant, 1) a woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries, 2) the egg must move toward the uterus through a fallopian tube, 3) a man’s sperm must fertilize (enter) the egg, and 4) the fertilized egg must attach to the inside of the uterus (called implantation). If a problem occurs during any of these steps, infertility can occur.
What causes infertility in women?
In women, infertility is often caused by problems with ovulation. Without ovulation, there are no eggs available to be fertilized. Irregular or absent menstrual periods are common signs of abnormal ovulation. Issues with ovulation are often caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility and it involves a problem with hormone imbalance which can interfere with normal ovulation. Another cause of ovulation issues is primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), which occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before the age of 40. It is not the same as early menopause.
What can increase a woman’s risk of infertility?
Many factors can impact a woman’s ability to conceive, including:
- Excessive alcohol
- Poor diet
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Being over or underweight
- Athletic training
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome and other health problems that cause hormonal shifts
What are the treatment options?
If you and your partner are struggling to conceive, medicine, surgery, artificial insemination, and assisted reproductive technology can all be used to treat infertility. In many cases, a few of these treatments are combined. Your specific treatment(s) will depend on:
- The amount of time you and your partner have been trying to get pregnant
- The age of you and your partner
- The overall health of you and your partner
- The results of infertility tests
Request an appointment in the San Fernando Valley
If you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, schedule an appointment at Premier Women’s Health Associates in West Hills, California. Dr. Gary Ott is a board-certified OB/GYN who specializes in infertility treatments for women. He can determine if you are experiencing any issues with ovulation and provide the appropriate treatment plan. Infertility can be extremely disheartening, but we can help you understand the issue and increase your chances of pregnancy. If you live in Calabasas, West Lake, Thousand Oaks, or the surrounding areas, give us a call at (818) 346-5000 or request an appointment online.