There are so many stories about infertility out there, commonly ones that sounds like this: someone spends a year going through the roller coaster ride of trying to have a baby, hoping it would be their month, but unfortunately their period inevitably came. They keep checking in with the OB/GYN, who tells them that nothing is wrong, they should keep doing what they’re doing, and to keep them in the loop and circle back after 12 months of trying to conceive. Twelve frustrating months of trying to become pregnant go by, and the gynecologist comes to find that the couple is struggling with infertility.
Infertility is clinically defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year of having regular sexual intercourse without the use of birth control, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). People are considered infertile if they’ve been trying to conceive for one year with no success, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that it’s not always your uterus that’s the issue. Infertility affects 20 percent of couples, while the CDC says that male factors contribute to infertility in about 35 percent of the cases. So, it’s important for your partner to be involved in the process and to also undergo fertility testing.
Also, conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome), or having damaged or blocked fallopian tubes that can’t be treated with surgery, may also make it harder to get pregnant without reproductive assistance, according to ACOG.
Ultimately, the journey that a couple embarks upon to become pregnant will differ from person to person, and it’s important to remember that there are specialists available who can help you go over your options and figure out what makes sense for you. In other words, if you hear the diagnosis of “infertility” don’t assume that you are out of options.
Some women may get pregnant after identifying and addressing whatever problem was getting in the way, while others may need to undergo rounds of a fertility drug to stimulate ovulation. There are also fertility options like intrauterine insemination (IUI), which involves placing sperm inside your uterus when you’re fertile, or in vitro fertilization (IVF), which involves retrieving eggs and fertilizing them with sperm in a lab, then implanting those embryos into your uterus. In addition to treatments like IVF, there are other paths to parenthood like using an egg donor, using a surrogate, or pursuing adoption.
Any time you’re worried about your fertility, even if it’s not something you want to happen right this second, you should still check in with your doctor. If you have any health issues like irregular or absent periods, an endometriosis diagnosis, a history of an eating disorder, a history of pelvic inflammatory disease, or a strong family history of infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss, it’s best to visit your fertility specialist immediately.
Basically, if you’ve been trying for a year and haven’t gotten pregnant yet, you’re infertile, regardless of whether or not you actually get pregnant in the future. Eight to 15 percent of couples are unable to get pregnant within a year.
Above all, know this: Infertility is really common and it’s nothing to feel embarrassed about. Plus, there many options out there that can help, it just may be a longer and more frustrating process than you anticipated. There are plenty of people out there struggling with the same ordeal, so, don’t be afraid to reach out for help and support. Above all else, don’t assume infertility is a permanent problem. There are so many options available for both partners trying to conceive.
To learn more about infertility, call University OBGYN Associates at (315) 464-5162, to request an appointment, or use our secure online appointment request form.