Conception problems and risks

Susan Fernandez March 03 2022

What are the problems in conceiving?

Fertility problems are defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse. They affect both men and women, and their causes can be complex. Some of the more common issues include the following.

Ovulatory disorders prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. For women, it is the most common cause of fertility problems.

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that can interfere with ovulation.
  • Endometriosis, in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of it. This can cause scarring and blockages that prevent eggs from descending into the uterus.
  • Tubal factor infertility occurs when Fallopian tubes are damaged or blocked, preventing sperm from reaching the egg. This is the second most common cause of female fertility problems.
  • Male factor infertility accounts for about one in three cases of infertility. It can be caused by low sperm count, poor sperm quality, or blockages that prevent sperm from being released.
  • Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths in the uterus. It happens because of an imbalance in the levels of progesterone and estrogen.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the reproductive organs that can damage the Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus.
  • Some medications can interfere with fertility. These include certain types of birth control pills, anti-inflammatory drugs, and antidepressants.
  • Certain health conditions can also affect fertility. These include diabetes, celiac disease, and thyroid disorders.

Other potential causes of fertility problems include stress, being overweight or underweight, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and certain medications. If you're having difficulty conceiving, it's important to see a doctor so that any underlying issues can be diagnosed and treated.

Fertility problems can affect anyone. They are common, and about one in ten couples in the United States have trouble conceiving. Age is a factor, as fertility declines with age, especially for women. Other risk factors include a family history of fertility problems, certain medical conditions, and smoking.

What are the symptoms of fertility problems?

The most common symptom of fertility problems is an inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse. Other potential symptoms for women include:

  1. Irregular or absent periods
  2. Pain during intercourse
  3. Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  4. Pelvic pain

If you're having any of these symptoms, it's important to see a doctor so that any underlying issues can be diagnosed and treated.

For men these symptoms might include:

  1. Erectile dysfunction
  2. Decreased libido

In this case, men should consult a doctor to be evaluated for potential testosterone deficiency or other issues.

Can I test my fertility at home?

There are a number of at-home fertility tests available for both men and women.

Home fertility tests for women include ovulation predictor kits, which measure hormone levels in urine to predict when ovulation will occur. There are also saliva-based ovulation predictors that detect changes in estrogen levels.

For men, at-home fertility tests involve collecting a semen sample and testing it for sperm count and motility. There are also DNA fragmentation tests available that can assess the quality of sperm.

While at-home fertility tests can be a useful screening tool, they are not as accurate as tests performed by a doctor. If you're having difficulty conceiving, it's important to see a fertility specialist so that any underlying issues can be diagnosed and treated.

What are fertility risk factors?

If you wonder whether you may have problems with fertility, there are a number of factors that can increase your risk. This doesn’t mean that you will definitely have problems – many people who have one or more risk factors go on to conceive without any difficulties. However, if you have any of the following risk factors, it’s worth seeing a fertility specialist for further investigation and advice.

So, what factors are linked usually to fertility problems for both men and women?

  • Age – both men and women are born with a finite number of eggs or sperm, which decline in quantity and quality as we age. This decline is more pronounced after the age of 35 years for women, and 40 years for men.
  • Weight – being overweight or obese can affect fertility in several ways. For example, it can lead to hormone imbalances that make it harder to conceive. Being very underweight can also negatively impact fertility.
  • Smoking – smoking cigarettes can damage a woman’s eggs and reduce her overall chances of conceiving. It also lowers sperm count and quality in men and is linked to an increased risk of miscarriage.
  • Alcohol – drinking alcohol excessively can reduce fertility in both men and women. It can damage the quality of eggs and sperm and can also lead to hormone imbalances.
  • STIs – some sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, can cause inflammation of the reproductive organs, which can lead to fertility problems.
  • Medical conditions – certain medical conditions can impact fertility. For example, endometriosis – a condition where tissue that normally lines the womb is found outside of it – can make it harder to get pregnant. PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is another condition that can interfere with ovulation.
  • Previous pregnancy (for women, of course) – if you have had a previous pregnancy, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will find it easier to conceive again. In fact, some factors associated with pregnancy, such as being older or having had a cesarean section, can make it more difficult to conceive in the future.
  • Testicular injury, cysts, or cancer – can all lead to reduced sperm count or quality. In fact, any history of testicular problems can impact fertility.
  • Klinefelter syndrome (men only) – this is a genetic disorder that affects male sexual development, resulting in smaller than average testicles and reduced sperm production.
  • Celiac disease – this autoimmune disorder damages the lining of the gut, which can impact hormone levels and fertility.
  • Premature menopause (women) – this is when menopause occurs before the age of 40 years and can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics.

There are also a number of lifestyle choices that can affect fertility:

  • Stress: for many people, stress is an unavoidable part of life. However, chronic stress can lead to hormone imbalances that make it harder to conceive.
  • Excessive exercise: while moderate exercise is good for overall health, excessive exercise can impact fertility by affecting hormone levels.
  • Diet: eating a balanced diet is important for fertility, as certain nutrients are essential for reproductive health. For example, iron is necessary for the production of healthy red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the cells in our bodies.

All of these things can impact hormone levels and make it more difficult to conceive. If you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s a good idea to try and reduce stress levels, get enough rest, and moderate your exercise routine.

It’s also important to remember that fertility problems can happen to anyone. Age isn’t always a factor – in fact, one in four couples will experience fertility problems. If you’re having trouble conceiving, don’t be afraid to seek help from a fertility specialist. With the right treatment, many couples are able to achieve their dream of starting a family.

What to do if you or your partner have concerns about fertility?

If you have any concerns about fertility, it’s important to talk to your doctor. They will be able to help you understand your options and offer advice on how to improve your chances of conceiving.

You or your partner may go through infertility treatment. This can be a difficult and emotional time, so it’s important to have a support system in place. Family and friends can be a great source of support, but there are also many fertility support groups available.

If you or your partner are going through fertility treatment, there are some things you can do to make the process easier.

Educate yourself about the different types of treatment available. You need to learn about the risks and benefits of each option so that you can make informed decisions about your care.

Talk to your doctor about your treatment options. It’s important to understand the potential side effects of each treatment so that you can make an informed decision about what’s right for you.

Find a support group. There are many fertility support groups available, both online and in person. This is a great way to connect with others who are going through similar experiences.

Take some time for yourself. Fertility treatment can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Make sure to take some time for yourself – whether it’s taking a yoga class or getting a massage – to relax and rejuvenate.

Talk to other couples who have been through fertility treatment. They can offer valuable advice and support. For example, they may be able to recommend a fertility doctor or clinic.

Make sure you have a good support system in place, whether it’s family, friends, or a support group.

There are also a number of support groups available for couples who are struggling with fertility issues. These groups can provide emotional support and practical advice on how to cope with fertility problems.

You may also want to consider seeking help from a fertility specialist. These experts can help you understand your fertility and offer treatment options that may improve your chances of conceiving. Treatment for fertility problems depends on the underlying cause. If an underlying medical condition is causing infertility, treating the condition can often improve fertility. For example, if PCOS is causing fertility problems, treatment with birth control pills or other medications can often restore ovulation.

If there is damage to the Fallopian tubes, surgery can sometimes be performed to repair them. In cases of male factor infertility, treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be recommended. In some cases, no specific cause of infertility is found. In this case, fertility treatments such as IUI or IVF may be recommended.

If you're having difficulty conceiving, it's important to see a fertility specialist so that any underlying issues can be diagnosed and treated. With today's advances in fertility treatments, there are many options available to help couples conceive. Don't hesitate to seek help if you're having trouble conceiving - the sooner you get help, the better your chances of success.

What are 3 ways to prevent infertility?

So, you already know all the possible risk factors for your fertility, now let’s take a look at some ways you can help prevent infertility. 

First, be in shape - eat a healthy diet, be at a healthy weight, don’t smoke, and limit your alcohol intake. All of these things can negatively impact your fertility. It will help you in the future because when you are trying to conceive, these things will matter even more.

Second, take care of your reproductive organs - get regular Pap smears and pelvic exams, and talk to your doctor about any pain or changes you’re experiencing down there. These things can all be early warning signs of problems that could impact your fertility.

Third, know your family history - if you have a family history of infertility or genetic disorders, you may be at a higher risk for fertility problems. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have. Moreover, you can take steps to prevent infertility, even if you have a family history of the condition.

What are some natural ways to increase fertility?

While there is no guarantee that these methods will work for everyone, there are a few natural ways you can try to increase your fertility. 

Try preconception planning - this involves making lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, taking a prenatal vitamins, and getting regular exercise. These changes can help improve your overall health and increase your chances of conceiving.

Try acupuncture - this ancient Chinese practice involves placing thin needles at specific points on the body. Some research has shown that acupuncture may help improve fertility by increasing blood flow to the uterus and decreasing stress levels.

Take a fertility supplement - there are many different supplements on the market that claim to increase fertility. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, as some can be harmful if you have certain medical conditions.