Women’s Health: Infertility

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — About 6.1 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the U.S. have problems with infertility. The Office on Women’s Health says the clinical definition of infertility is the inability to get pregnant after a year of trying for women under 35, or six months for women 35 and older.

About 6.1 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the U.S. have problems with infertility. What or how is infertility defined? The clinical definition of infertility is the inability to get pregnant after a year of trying, six months for women 35 years or older, according to the Office on Women’s Health.

There may be many reasons why a woman cannot be able to get pregnant. One-third of infertility cases are tied directly to a women’s health problem, and another one-third of the time it’s a health issue related to the man. The other third of infertility cases are generally related to a health issue with both partners, sometimes with no explanation, according to the Mayo Clinic.

There are known conditions that can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant like irregular menstrual cycles, endometriosis, or polycystic ovary syndrome. In these cases, it’s important to discuss pregnancy beforehand with a doctor, said Dr. Katherine Cartwright, and OBGYN with Albany Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Causes of infertility

  • Ovulation disorders like polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Uterine or cervical abnormalities
  • Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes
  • Endometriosis
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency (early menopause)
  • Pelvic adhesions
  • Cancer and/or cancer treatments

Other risk factors

  • Age
  • Tobacco or marijuana use
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being under- or over-weight
  • Too little or too much exercise

*Source: Mayo Clinic

No matter the cause of infertility, it can create a lot of stress for women and/or couples trying to start or grow their families. That’s where support groups become instrumental in helping women or couples cope with the mental challenges of infertility, Dr. Cartwright said.

“For some people, they walk in the door and there’s a simple solution. We look at lab work, we look at something and say okay, this is something we can fix. Here’s a plan, let’s move forward and they don’t get to that point. For other people, they’re walking in the door, and it’s been five years of trying. And it’s the first time they’re seeing someone or the tenth time they’re seeing someone,” she said in an interview with NEWS10’s Mary Wilson.

“I think it really depends on the toll it’s taken on people but there are tons of emotional support groups. There are people who have been through this, which I think many patients find to be the community that they get the most support from, is people who really know what they’re going through.”

Some other causes of infertility can include stress, diabetes, hormonal issues, certain medications, and nutrient deficiency, according to the Albany Obstetrics and Gynecology website.

A woman or couple’s infertility journey may not always end in pregnancy or birth of a child but seeing patients through their struggles with infertility resulting in a pregnancy and birth of a healthy baby is rewarding, Dr. Cartwright said.

“I think happy stories from patients who get pregnant and have a happy healthy baby is the best thing we can ask for. It’s unfortunately not always the case for everyone.”

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