“I was Googling different syndromes that would affect my fertility, like 'vitamin deficiency'. I went to the doctor and told her I had an autoimmune disorder preventing me from getting pregnant, which was totally untrue. I self-diagnosed myself!” - Jess*
When month after month goes by with out a positive pregnancy test or we experience a miscarriage, many of us become avid online fertility researchers. For this week’s blog post we will review one of the top areas of education that help women want to know more about: why am I not getting pregnant?!
Reason Number One: Age
Age is the number one factor regarding fertility for women. The older we get, the more our fertility declines until we are no longer fertile. Fertility starts to decline when we are in our early 30s. For women in their 30s trying to conceive, the risk of miscarriage is higher as well.
When speaking with fertility expert Dr. Don Aptekar, he said that the pressure to conceive faster due to age is higher than when younger, but that statistically it will take longer. He reminds his patients that in their 20s they may have had 12 good eggs in a year, but now they may have 4 good eggs in a year so it may simply take longer. While it's not possible to make more eggs, you can make lifestyle changes to make your eggs and body as good as they can be. By having a healthy exercise plan, eating a specific 'fertility' diet and taking high-quality vitamin, you and your partner can improve both egg and sperm quality. Check out The Fertility Diet recommendations here.
If you are over the age of 35 years old, doctors recommend seeing a specialist after 6 months of trying and if you are under 35 years of age, doctors recommend trying for 12 months.
Reason Number Two: Timing Fertile Window
"The number one reason my patients have a difficult time conceiving is that they 1) have not waited long enough and 2) are timing intercourse wrong," says Dr. Aptekar. A research study showed that Dr. Aptekar is spot on - only 13% of women were able to accurately identify their fertile window (source).
Women in general are fertile for about 6 days total each month depending on how long their partner’s sperm is viable. You are most fertile 48-hours before you ovulate. Outside of the fertile window there is a zero percent chance of conception.
Studies have found that ovulation can occur any where from day 6 to day 21 and that it varies each month (Source).
Reason Number Three: Ovulation Disorder
The length of your cycle each month can be a key indicator of a hormonal imbalance that may be impacting ovulation. It is not possible to have a true menstrual cycle without ovulation, however, it is possible to bleed and confuse the bleeding for a menstrual cycle Most women who have ovulatory dysfunction do not realize they have a problem until they are trying to conceive. Ovulatory dysfunction is responsible for 40% of infertile women.
If your cycle is in the range of 21-35 days each month, this indicates that you are probably ovulating regularly. One of the biggest concerns for women whose cycle lengths are closer to 21 or 35 days are that they might be missing their fertile window. To read more about what your period says about your fertility click here.
Are you covering all your bases? Test your fertility knowledge here with this Fertility Quiz.
Reason Number Four: Weight (either to low or too high)
Body weight can have a major impact on your ability to conceive by affecting ovulation. If your body fat percentage is too low, estrogen levels may be too low. If you are overweight, estrogen levels may be too high. Both can affect your ovulation cycle. If you are underweight or overweight, gaining or losing 5lbs may make a significant difference in regards to your fertility.
One way to estimate if you are in the healthy range is to calculate your BMI. Here is an online BMI calculator to calculate your BMI. Weight is not only an issue for women trying to conceive, it’s also an issue for your partner. Men, both underweight and overweight, can have reduced sperm quality. You should discuss with your doctor about a meal and exercise plan.
Reason Number Five: Your Partner
It is a common misconception that if a couple is unable to get pregnant that the problem most likely is due to the female partner. In infertile couples, approximately 40% is due to male-factor infertility, 40% is due to female-factor infertility and 20% is due to both.
If you know you are ovulating because you have regular periods or you have used products to indicate that you are ovulating, you've been having intercourse every day or every other day during your fertile window, it may be time to check the sperm. Your partner can go to a clinic and have his sperm checked out or check out Trak, - a male fertility testing system your man can do from home.
What if you are having secondary infertility? It's still a good idea to get his sperm checked out.
If his sperm is fine, your doctor may suggest checking your fallopian tubes next.
Reason Number Six: Waiting Long Enough
If there was an 80% chance of sunshine and 20% chance of rain, you probably would not bring your raincoat. How about if there was an 80% chance of rain? You’d probably pack your umbrella. So if you have an 80% chance of not getting pregnant each month, than you may actually be more surprised by a positive pregnancy test than a negative one.
The point is that getting pregnant may take time. The biggest fear is the unknown and no matter what questions you have running through your mind, the biggest question is, "will it happen for us?"
While you are on your trying to conceive journey do what you can to reduce your stress. If that means charting your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) to make you feel more in control of the process, go for it. If that stresses you out more, look for another method that works better for you.
For more information on possible causes behind infertility, how to time your fertile window and other education, check out our blog posts at www.priyaing.com/blog.