tiagozr/fotolia, Edited by Erin Kennedy
Sponsored by: The Stork® OTC
Egg, meet sperm. Sperm, meet egg. Any questions?
Although from the outside, reproducing may look easier than finding a Tinder match, in reality it can be much more complex. There are many factors involved in human reproduction that need to be “just so” in order for pregnancy to occur. That’s under the best of conditions.
However, for women who are struggling with their fertility, there may be a root cause. Here are the most common ones that can be correctly diagnosed by your doctor:
1. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is the most common cause of infertility in women. Hormone imbalances result in small cysts on the ovaries. This can cause irregular periods, insulin resistance and/or higher testosterone levels, but there are many different symptoms.
It is estimated that up to 50 percent of women are undiagnosed, according to the PCOS Foundation. There is no cure for PCOS, but there are many ways to control it, including weight control and not smoking.
2. Hormonal factors that inhibit ovulation
PCOS is under this umbrella, but there are other disorders that may lead to infrequent or nonexistent ovulation. These include hypothalamic dysfunction.
Here, the two main hormones produced by the pituitary gland that are responsible for stimulating ovulation (FSH and LH) can be disrupted by factors such as low or high body weight or excess stress. This often shows up in the form of irregular or absent periods.
The pituitary gland can also cause excess production of prolactin, which reduces estrogen. There is also an autoimmune response where your body mistakenly attacks ovarian tissues due to genetics or chemotherapy.
Typical treatments include medications that induce ovulation, but it is dependent on the disorder.
3. Tubal Infertility
This is an umbrella term describing infertility caused by blockages, scarring or other factors that affect the fallopian tubes, which in turn impedes the passage of the ovum. Tubal Infertility may be due to surgery, pelvic inflammatory disease or some other factor.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) can be used to bypass the fallopian tube, or there are ways to attempt repair.
This is one of those words that many of us may have heard but may not quite know what it means. Endometriosis occurs when tissue from the uterus grows and implants in other locations.
The extra tissue growth can cause scarring when removed, as discussed in tubal infertility, and can affect the lining of the uterus. It is often painful, although some women have no symptoms.
While there is no cure for endometriosis, surgical removal of scar tissue, along with IVF, may help women become pregnant.
5. Cervical causes
Cervical mucus needs to be a specific consistency and quantity in order to conceive. The most common reason it may not have the right viscosity is due to a hormone imbalance of some sort, whether it is too little estrogen or too much progesterone.
There may also be a narrowing of the cervix known as cervical stenosis. Both can be highly treatable, with minor surgeries and/or at home treatments.
6. Uterine causes
Benign polyps or tumors are common in the uterus but can disrupt implementation. Some women also have abnormally shaped uteruses, which are present from birth. Many women are still able to conceive with both of these factors, however.
7. Sexually Transmitted Infections
You may not know that you have gonorrhea or chlamydia, but they both can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes. IVF may be a way to bypass the damage.
It is certainly possible to go through the battery of tests, only to have everything look normal. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine reports that this may be the situation for an estimated 5 to 10 percent of couples trying to conceive.
Your health care provider can help you to determine the root cause of your fertility struggle and suggest options to help you to get pregnant.
You may also want to consider some over-the-counter options. The Stork® OTC is one such example, using cervical cap insemination to capture sperm and help transfer it directly to the cervix. This may help couples with common fertility problems such as low sperm count or an unfavorable vaginal environment.
The Stork® OTC can be purchased online from select retailers as well as at select store locations for CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens.
To learn more and to see how The Stork® OTC may help you, visit: www.storkotc.com.
Reviewed September 29, 2016
By Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith