Reasons you may not be getting pregnant after months of trying
Infertility affects approximately 3.5 million women in the UK alone, or 1 in 6 couples. A woman’s fertility is influenced by her age: female fertility peaks in the early to mid 20’s and declines slowly until the age of 35, when infertility then accelerates more rapidly. However, there are a number of younger women who, despite their perceived fertility, have difficulty in conceiving.
It is generally advised that women under the age of 35 age wait for one year before investigating why they are failing to conceive.
There are two types of infertility:
- primary infertility: where someone who has never conceived a child in the past has difficulty conceiving,
- secondary infertility: where a person has had one or more pregnancies in the past, but is having difficulty conceiving again.
It is estimated that 1/3 of the causes of infertility are associated with male factors such as poor sperm quality, 1/3 attributed to female factors and 1/3 due to undiagnosed or unknown fertility.
Three of the most common conditions that contribute to early female infertility are pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs, usually caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Although PID can often be treated quickly and effectively, if left untreated, it can lead to infertility.
As well as increasing your risk of having an ectopic pregnancy, scarring or abscesses in the fallopian tubes can make it difficult for you to get pregnant if eggs cannot pass easily into the womb.
It’s estimated that about 1 in every 10 women with PID becomes infertile as a result of the condition, with the highest risk in women who had delayed treatment or repeated episodes of PID.
Endometriosis is a common condition that is estimated to affect around two million women in the UK. It is primarily found in young women aged between 25 and 40. Endometriosis occurs when the endometrium, which normally lines the inside of the womb, is found instead on the outside, most commonly on the ovaries and the top of the vagina. This induces a chronic inflammatory reaction that causes internal scarring, pelvic pain, painful periods, painful intercourse, and infertility.
One of the main complications of endometriosis is difficulty getting pregnant or infertility.
Although surgery cannot guarantee that you will be able to get pregnant, there is good evidence that removing visible areas of endometriosis with a laser or an electric current during keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery can improve your chances of having a successful pregnancy.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries function.Polycystic ovaries contain a large number of harmless cysts up to 8mm in size. The cysts are under-developed sacs in which eggs develop. Often in PCOS, these sacs are unable to release an egg, meaning ovulation doesn’t take place.
It’s estimated that about 1 in every 5 women in the UK has polycystic ovaries, but more than half of these have no symptoms. Diagnosis is usually made during a woman’s teens and early twenties.
The three main features of the condition are:
- cysts that develop in your ovaries (polycystic ovaries)
- your ovaries do not regularly release eggs (ovulate)
- having high levels of “male hormones” called androgens in your body.
PCOS is normally diagnosed if you have two of these features. Signs and symptoms include:
- irregular periods or no periods at all
- difficulty getting pregnant (because of irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate)
- excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks
- weight gain
- thinning hair and hair loss from the head
- oily skin or acne.
PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility, because women with it often fail to ovulate or ovulate infrequently; they have irregular or absent periods and find it difficult to get pregnant. Many women discover they have PCOS when they’re trying to get pregnant and are unsuccessful.
If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while without success and would like to book an appointment at The Lister Fertility Clinic go to:
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