By Dr. Alisha Ware
Many women consult their OB-GYN when they have questions about fertility. Often, patients want to be tested to see if they are fertile. Unfortunately, the actual test of fertility is trying to get pregnant; infertility is defined as attempting to get pregnant for a year without success. However, various risk factors can affect a woman’s ability to conceive. Age, medical conditions, pelvic disease and more all may play a role.
Age is one of the most common fertility issues. Egg quality
in a woman’s ovaries begins to decline after age 35 and drops
off steeply after 40. Most women over 40 need assistance to conceive. Because age plays such a large role, women 35 or older should seek medical advice if they do not conceive after six months of trying.
Medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, may affect a woman’s ability to ovulate, interfering
with conception. Women with irregular cycles should speak
to their doctor about the underlying cause. Other medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension must be regulated prior to conception in order to maximize the health and stability of the pregnancy.
Conditions that distort pelvic anatomy such as fibroids or adhesions from previous pelvic infections or surgeries can make becoming pregnant more difficult. Fibroids can be detected by an exam or ultrasound. Adhesions may block fallopian tubes, and this blockage is detected on a specialized radiological test that is most frequently ordered after a patient has tried unsuccessfully to conceive on her own.
The male factor also should be considered in any case of infertility. A semen analysis is a simple and inexpensive test to ensure adequate
sperm counts. This test is now available locally, making access even easier.
It is always a good idea to talk with your gynecologist prior to beginning your fertility journey. This allows her to review medications, exposures or prior conditions that might affect your success and to explain ways to monitor your ovulation timing, such as basal body temp charting or over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits. If you do not conceive as soon as you would like, take heart. Most couples who want to have a baby will be successful.
Dr. Alisha Ware is an obstetrics and gynecology specialist with The Woman’s Clinic PA. Reach her at (228) 864-2752