The U.S. birth rate is the lowest it’s been in more than three decades, and the U.S. fertility rate is at a record low. Fertility issues in women are increasing, with an estimated 15% of couples having trouble conceiving, and this number just continues to grow. All of this means that around 5 to 10% of couples will seek help conceiving a baby each year. Infertility can also cause issues beyond trouble conceiving: it can also lead to mental health issues like depression. If you are worried about conceiving, know there are some ways to reduce the chances of infertility; if these don’t work, there are many treatment options available, including medications, surgery, and IVF.
What Is Infertility?
Infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant even after having frequent and unprotected sex for a year or more. It can affect both women and men, with one-third of infertility cases generally due to a problem with the male partner, one-third due to a female problem, and one-third due to a combination of unknown reasons.
Female infertility, or female factor infertility, can have multiple reasons behind it: for example, a menstrual cycle that is too long or too short, or other medical issues such as pelvic inflammatory disease. If you are having trouble conceiving, speak to your doctor, who will run tests to help determine the cause of your infertility.
How Common Is Infertility?
Infertility is fairly common, with at least 10% of women dealing with some form of it. The chances of being infertile increase as a woman ages; poor nutrition, high BMI, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol and drug use can also affect fertility. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of infertility, but, for women, the reasons can include problems with:
- The uterus- Fibroids, polyps, or adhesions inside the uterus can cause fertility issues.
- The fallopian tubes- Pelvic inflammatory disease, which is usually caused by chlamydia or gonorrhea, can cause infertility because it affects the fallopian tubes.
- Ovulation- Irregular ovulation can pose a problem when trying to get pregnant. Many things can affect ovulation, such as a hormonal imbalance, substance abuse, or a thyroid condition.
- Egg number and quality– Women are born with a limited number of eggs that are released every time they have their period. Some women have issues with their eggs, such as chromosomal issues that will make them less likely to become impregnated.
Why Are Female Infertility Rates Increasing?
Many factors can increase a woman’s risk of infertility, including genetic traits and lifestyle choices. The biggest factor in determining infertility, though, is generally age: as a woman ages, the chances of becoming pregnant decrease because of egg quantity and quality, as noted above.
But there are other reasons that rates of infertility are increasing:
- Environmental factors- Chemicals in foods and cleaning products can contribute to infertility. This means that sticking with a clean diet and using greener household supplies is a good idea if you’re trying to get pregnant.
- Lifestyle factors- Having a high or low BMI, being regularly exposed to chemicals, smoking, drinking, and lack of exercise can contribute to women’s infertility.
Diagnosis & Tests
To diagnose infertility, doctors will perform tests including a pap smear, pelvic exam, ultrasound, and blood tests. They may also perform:
- A laparoscopy, in which a small instrument is inserted into the abdomen to look at the organs.
- A saline sonohysterogram, during which your doctor will fill your uterus with saline and use an ultrasound machine to look at the lining of the uterus to check for any polyps, fibroids, or abnormalities.
- A hysteroscopy, in which a small device with a camera will be inserted into the vagina to provide a better view of the inside of the uterus.
Reducing Your Chances
Most forms of female infertility cannot be prevented; however, you can make some lifestyle modifications to reduce your risks of infertility. This can be done by cutting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight by eating well and exercising.
Living With Infertility
If you are diagnosed with infertility, that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. Once your doctor determines the cause or causes of your fertility issues, you can discuss the right treatment options for you. If the cause is structural, surgery can correct it; if it is hormonal, medication might help.
And if all else fails, artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization can help a woman to get pregnant. One study by Fertility Solutions showed that females aged 30-33 have the best chance of success (58%) during their first cycle of IVF compared to females of other age groups.
Dealing with infertility is not only a medical condition: it can be a mental health one as well. Studies show that dealing with fertility issues can lead to depression in both women and men. Speak to your doctor or a mental health professional if you’re feeling hopeless, or feel that your mental health is suffering in any way because of your physical condition.
To get tested, and treated, for infertility, you’ll need a good health insurance plan. If you’re looking for an insurance plan, EZ can help: we offer a wide range of health insurance plans from top-rated insurance companies in every state. And because we work with so many companies and can offer all of the plans available in your area, we can find you a plan that saves you a lot of money, even if you don’t qualify for a subsidy. There is no obligation, or hassle, just free quotes on all available plans in your area. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to a local agent, call 888-350-1890.