Source: Verona Patch
Did you know a woman is born with about one million eggs? It sounds like a lot, but by the time she’s in her early 30s, only about half of her eggs remain. In addition, as a woman ages, her egg quality also declines. That’s why when it comes to trying to get pregnant, age is often the biggest barrier.
Women under 35 who have been trying to get pregnant for more than a year should see an infertility specialist. Women over the age of 35 should contact an infertility specialist after six months without success.
Earlier evaluation for infertility is recommended in special circumstances. For instance, if a woman has irregular menstrual cycles or a family history of early menopause, or either partner has a history of cancer, the couple should seek consultation as soon as they decide to have children.
In addition to age, there are a number of issues that increase a couple’s risk for infertility.
– Irregular menstrual cycles can lead to difficulties in getting pregnant. Irregular cycles can be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome, premature ovarian failure, or insufficient stimulation of the ovaries by hormones from the brain.
– Abnormal thyroid function may be associated with infertility, miscarriage, and abnormalities of fetal brain development.
– Extremes of body weight may also affect reproduction. Individuals with a BMI under 18 (underweight) or over 30 (obese) may be at higher risk for infertility and also complications during pregnancy. Individuals who are underweight or have morbid obesity (BMI >40) should seek expert consultation prior to attempting conception.
– Women with endometriosis are at increased risk for infertility and ectopic pregnancy. Endometriosis is a condition wherein endometrial tissue (which should be found only inside the uterus) occurs outside the uterus.
– Women with known reproductive issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis should be evaluated by their gynecologist or a reproductive endocrinologist as soon as they begin attempting pregnancy.
– Individuals with complicated medical histories, such as histories of cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or prior pelvic surgeries may benefit from an early fertility evaluation. If the male partner has a medical history of prior exposure to chemotherapy and/or testicular or endocrine abnormalities, early semen analysis may save the couple many months of fruitless efforts at conception.
By Marcy F. Maguire, MD, FACOG, Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey. With 10 offices throughout the state, RMANJ has been helping hopeful patients become parents for nearly 20 years. Visit RMANJ.com to learn more.