Did you know more than 1 in 8 couples - over seven million Americans - will have trouble getting pregnant? Although infertility is a common medical condition, it is an extremely emotional and difficult experience for couples, often leaving them feeling confused, isolated and alone. We're here to tell you you are not alone. In fact, there's a week called National Infertility Awareness Week and we want to help.
National Infertility Awareness Week
With today kicking off National Infertility Awareness Week (takes place from (April 21 thru April 27) RESOLVE: National Infertility Association and Merck are shedding light on this important subject during National Infertility Awareness Week to offer information - instead of leaving couples to ask, "why me?" Momtrends recently spoke with Dr. Alice D. Domar, PhD, Executive Director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health and a renowned expert on infertility to learn more about infertility.
How does having children later in life affect fertility?
Dr. Alice D. Domar, PhD: Fertility decreases with age in both men and women. Many women believe that if they are still having regular menstrual cycles, that is an indication that they are still fertile. This is not necessarily true. Female fertility actually peaks around age 25 and begins to decline in one's late 20's. So the longer you wait to attempt to conceive, the more likely it is that you might have trouble.
In addition, as one ages, the risk of miscarriage increases. The recommendations for how long you should try before seeing a specialist are dependent on the age of the woman. For most couples, they are advised to try on their own for a year before seeing a fertility specialist. However, if the woman is over 35, the recommendation is to wait six months before seeking help, and if the woman is 40 or over, to try for only three months before seeing a specialist. Our research, conducted in partnership with Merck, found that most people in treatment (91%) wished they had started seeing a specialist sooner and about half of infertile couples reported they may have waited too long before they started trying.
What qualifications should couples look for when they are seeking a fertility specialist?
Dr. Alice D. Domar, PhD: The gold standard for a fertility specialist is someone who has done a residency in obstetrics and gynecology, followed by a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Only physicians who have completed this training, and passed a vigorous exam process, can call themselves a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). If you can find a RE in your area, he/she is more likely to be able to offer you the most current diagnostic and treatment options. If there are several REs in your area, you can speak with your ob/gyn or primary care physician to get a recommendation. Generally, you want a physician who not only is trained and offers the most effective and efficient treatment options, but also someone you feel you can trust and develop a good relationship.
What causes infertility?
Dr. Alice D. Domar, PhD:There are many causes of infertility, and the source can be with the woman, the man, both, or it can be unexplained infertility. One of the most common problems with women is issues with ovulation. The good news is that this is one of the conditions which responds most effectively to simple inexpensive treatment, in other words it is easy to treat and most women quickly conceive a healthy baby. Women can also have abnormal hormone levels, abnormalities in their tubes or uterus, or problems with normal egg production. Men may have too few sperm produced or the sperm might not be formed normally. The good news is that the majority of men, women, and couples who seek out treatment from an infertility specialist do end up with a healthy baby and most of them do not need high-tech treatment to achieve their dream of creating a family.
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What is the emotional impact on infertility on couples?
Dr. Alice D. Domar, PhD:The emotional impact of infertility depends on the couple's relationship, how much support they can get from their friends and family, and their diagnosis/prognosis/treatment plan.
Almost half of women report symptoms of anxiety and/or depression by the time they seek out seeing an infertility specialist and if treatment fails, their symptoms can become more severe. Women with infertility report levels of depression and anxiety which is equivalent to women with serious medical issues, including cancer or heart disease. So if you are experiencing can open doors.
More about infertility:
- A 2009 survey of 585 men and women revealed that 65% of participants NEVER CONSIDERED THEY MAY HAVE TROUBLE CONCEIVING until it happened to them.
- In a survey of 57 participants, 91% of those seeing a fertility specialist for treatment WISH THEY HAD STARTED DOING SO SOONER.
- Half (51%) of those surveyed agreed that they MAY HAVE WAITED TOO LONG TO START TRYING
CAUSES OF INFERTILITY:
- Both men and women can have problems that cause infertility.
- About one-third of cases are due to female problems.
- About one-third of cases are due to male problems.
- The remaining one-third of cases are caused by a mixture of male and female problems or by unknown problems.
Infertility Issues in WOMEN
Ovulation disorders are a common cause of infertility in women and account for 25% of all infertility cases. Hormonal disorders, among others, can also contribute to infertility.
Infertility Issues in MEN
The most common male infertility factors include a condition known as azoospermia (when no sperm cells are produced) and oligospermia (where few sperm cells are produced). Sometimes, sperm cells can be malformed or die before they can reach the egg.
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