April 24th begins National Infertility Awareness Week, encouraging us to talk openly about the challenges of becoming pregnant, carrying a baby to term and overcoming the stigmas associated with infertility.
At Her Wellness Health Center, Dr. Garritano and Christina are always here with compassionate care and the latest evidence-based information to answer your questions and do everything possible to help grow your family.
The Office on Women’s Health explains infertility as an inability to get or stay pregnant after one year of trying to conceive, having regular sexual intercourse without using any birth control. Because fertility decreases with age, in people over the age of 35, infertility is diagnosed when a couple has not been able to conceive over a 6-month period. The National Institutes of Health report that between 12 and 15% of couples struggle with infertility.
It’s important to recognize that couples struggle with infertility in different ways and in different phases of the process. For pregnancy to successfully occur, a whole range of things have to happen in a particular order. An egg must:
- be released from the ovaries,
- travel toward the uterus through the fallopian tube,
- become fertilized by sperm, and
- implant inside the uterus.
Infertility can be linked problems occurring at any of those stages.
People with ovaries struggling with infertility typically experience problems with ovulation or implantation. The most common underlying conditions that interfere with fertility are:
- polycystic ovarian syndrome
- pelvic inflammatory disease
- physical issues with the uterus, typically as a result of injury or surgery
- uterine fibroids.
In people with sperm, the most common causes of infertility can be linked to sperm production, either with quantity or quality. These issues are commonly traced to an underlying genetic condition, an illness or an injury.
Couples struggling with conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy should be very cognizant of how delicate the process of getting pregnant can be. For all genders, unhealthy lifestyle or environmental factors—alcohol use, smoking, poor diet, and exposure to toxins—can cause or exacerbate infertility issues.
Infertility issues do increase with age. Women in their 30s are about half as fertile as they are in their 20s. As many people today choose to get pregnant later in life, about 1 in 8 couples—accounting for over 6 million people—have experienced infertility.
Unfortunately, these numbers are just estimates. According to the CDC, the majority of infertile people do not share their infertility struggles with others. By not talking openly about infertility, people may not recognize how common their experiences are and may not seek the resources available to improve their chances at conceiving.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to bring awareness to infertility issues. Communicating about your own experiences with infertility is crucial in maintaining a couple’s relationship. Researchers have found a correlation between relationship quality and a couple’s shared perception of their infertility. By not talking about their own experiences, those struggling with infertility take on the psychological stress of their situation on their own.
Neuroscientists have studied the impact of stress on pregnancies and have proven that psychological interventions can lower the distress of experiencing infertility and significantly increase pregnancy rates. 9 out of 10 couples who undergo infertility treatment are able to get pregnant, and treatment is particularly effective under the age of 35.
Dr. Garritano and Christina invite you to openly share any experiences with infertility. Working together, we can raise awareness about how common infertility is and how much support exists for those hoping to grow their family.
Are you struggling with infertility and want solid answers? Her Wellness Health Center can help. Just click here to make an appointment.