Women who decide to put off having children may find later in life that they have difficulty trying to conceive or carry to term. If you are not ready for kids just yet, but still think you may want them someday, it is wise to consider all the factors that can affect your ability to conceive down the road. There are even ways you can proactively (and positively) impact them!
Waiting to Have Children
As mentioned previously, the longer you wait to have children, the harder it can become. There is nothing wrong in waiting until you are financially or personally ready to bring children into the world, but just be aware of the difficulties you may encounter by waiting. Fertility declines starting at about age 35 as women have less quantity and quality of eggs. By age 40, women have less than a 5% chance of getting pregnant each cycle.
You can’t stop the clock, but you can prepare for that unfortunate outcome. IVF (in vitro fertilization) is a common procedure that women look to in order to overcome infertility. Another solution is freezing your eggs when you are younger to preserve your own eggs for when you are ready!
Getting pregnant and staying pregnant is all about your hormones. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder in which a woman has an abnormal amount of male hormones, which can negatively impact your ability to become pregnant.
Talk with an obstetrician at Women First Specialists about medications that can balance your hormones and increase your chances for getting pregnant.
Issues Within the Reproductive Organs
Women may have damaged their reproductive organs through injury or disease. For example, PID, or pelvic inflammatory disease, can cause infection and block the fallopian tubes to prevent ovulation.
Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue from inside the uterus grows in other places leading to blockage and swelling.
Other abnormalities like misshapen organs can also prevent pregnancy.
Surgery is an option to remove blockages, and IVF plus cryopreservation (freezing eggs) can also be very effective in bypassing a blockage altogether.
A Woman’s Medical History
Chemotherapy and radiation, surgery for endometriosis, and untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can all decrease fertility.
Make sure to complete regular screenings for sexually transmitted infections and talk with your physician about whether certain medical treatments will affect your ability to conceive.
Unhealthy Body Weight
This applies to both women who are too heavy or too thin as each of these scenarios can affect fertility. A high BMI can affect the pituitary gland, making it difficult to ovulate whereas being too thin causes a deficiency in leptin, which leads to an absence of menstrual periods.
Fortunately, once your BMI is at a healthy level, these issues will dissipate.
Smoking is just not healthy for men or women, and especially any women wishing to become pregnant. All the negative consequences of smoking should influence everyone to quit. Smoking can affect the developing fetus in many negative ways, and make it much more difficult to become pregnant in the first place.
By no means are we telling you to stop your workouts. This particular factor can often tie in to the previous note on being underweight, as too vigorous of an exercise regimen can affect ovulation and you may find you are having lighter, shorter periods, or none at all.
You should see an obstetrician-gynecologist if this occurs.
If you have been trying to get pregnant without success, you are probably already feeling pretty stressed. Stress can be one of many factors preventing fertility, so don’t ignore it!
If you feel more stressed than normal, try attending a stress management program. Many women also find success in reducing stress by regularly engaging in low-impact activities that they enjoy such as yoga classes or at-home meditations.
Obviously, there are many factors that affect your ability to conceive. Take some time to reflect on these influences and whether or not they may be inhibiting your fertility, then make an appointment with the providers of Women First Specialists to learn about what treatment options we have available. Visit one of our office locations in Chicago, or simply call (773) 792-0209 to speak with our staff.