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Infertility Signs and Risk Factors

You want to have a baby, but despite your best efforts, you’re not getting pregnant. Or you’re having multiple miscarriages. Could it be infertility?

Maybe. Infertility is more common than you may realize, affecting 1 in 8 couples in the United States. 

Infertility is defined as: No pregnancy after 12 months of regular, contraceptive-free intercourse.

About half of infertility is caused by a female factor, a third is caused by a male factor, and the remainder is either unexplained or caused by both male and female factors.

At Westover Hills Women’s Health, our board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, Houmam Al-Hakeem, MD, can help infertile couples become parents. The first step is to learn about what could be preventing pregnancy. 

What are the risk factors for infertility?

There are quite a few risk factors for female infertility. Here are some of them:

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a condition caused by imbalances in a woman’s reproductive hormones. It affects about 1 in 10 women. Fortunately, PCOS is one of the most treatable causes of infertility in women.  

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue from inside the uterus grows in places where it shouldn’t, such as the outside of the uterus, the ovaries, and other pelvic organs. Endometriosis can cause pain, heavy periods, and other symptoms, including infertility.  

Ovulation problems

When you ovulate, your ovaries release eggs that, if fertilized, can lead to pregnancy. But various types of ovulation problems can make it harder for a woman to conceive.

Sexually transmitted infections

Having sexually transmitted infections, including gonorrhea or chlamydia, could make it harder for you to conceive because they can damage your reproductive system. Using safe sex practices including condomscan prevent these infections.  Early diagnosis and treatment of these infections could help preserve fertility.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

PID is an infection that occurs in your reproductive organs. Although it is commonly caused by sexually transmitted infections, it may also result from other types of infections. Clearing up infections may make pregnancy possible. 

Premature ovarian failure

Premature ovarian failure is a condition in which a woman’s ovaries stop functioning normally prior to age 40. Symptoms may include irregular periods, pain during sex, and menopause-like symptoms that occur earlier than expected, making it harder for pregnancy to occur.

Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that can occur in your uterus. In some cases, they can prevent pregnancy. In many cases, removing them through minimally invasive surgical procedures can make pregnancy possible.

Lifestyle factors

Smoking, excess weight, alcohol use, stress, and caffeine intake may all have an effect on your fertility. Making lifestyle changes are some of the most helpful and manageable ways to improve your ability to conceive.

Other health conditions

These include Type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and thyroid conditions, which can all have an impact on fertility.  

Treating infertility

Fortunately, various types of treatment can make it possible for infertile women to become pregnant. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, medication, minimally invasive surgical procedures, or assisted reproductive treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF).

To learn about what could be causing your infertility, Dr. Al-Hakeem performs an infertility workup to check your overall health and your reproductive health. 

He then creates a personalized treatment plan that outlines your options for addressing factors that may be interfering with pregnancy. He also advises your partner on any potential male-factor infertility concerns.

To schedule an appointment for an infertility workup at one of our two San Antonio, Texas, offices, call us today or use our online tool.

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