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5 Causes of Infertility

5 Causes of Infertility

Infertility is on the rise among couples in the United States, with about 15% now considered to be infertile. Fertility issues often occur if the woman is under 35 and you’ve been trying to conceive with regular, unprotected sex for at least a year or — if she’s over 35 — for at least six months. 

The good news is, just because you’re infertile now doesn’t mean you’ll always be infertile. At Maria Cole Family Practice in Odessa, Texas, our expert nurse practitioners — Maria Cole, APRN, FNP-C, and Kelly Wenger, APRN, FNP-C — evaluate you and your partner to determine the cause or causes of your infertility and then devise a treatment plan.

Following are five of the most common causes of infertility, along with potential treatments.

1. Being overweight or underweight

For both women and men, a healthy weight increases your chances of conceiving a child. The amount of fat on your body influences your hormones. Too much fat leads to an excess in estrogen for both women and men. 

Women, however, may also reduce their fertility — and lose their periods — if they don’t have enough fat. Female athletes, for instance, who work out so vigorously and regularly that they’re nearly pure muscle, often stop menstruating.

When you come in for a fertility evaluation, we take your weight into consideration, too. If you’re overweight, we may recommend medically supervised weight loss to get you to a healthy body mass index (BMI). If you’re underweight, we may advise hormone therapy to help jumpstart your periods and also help you gain weight gradually and healthily.

You can get a good sense of whether your BMI is healthy or not by entering your information here. Switching to a healthier diet not only helps you lose or gain weight, as appropriate, but will also keep your body well nourished and strong so you can support your baby as it grows.

2. Problems with hormones 

The ratio of fat to muscle in your body affects your hormones, which in turn affects your fertility. But your hormones can shift out of balance for many reasons, even if you’re at a normal, healthy weight. 

Women who are in the perimenopausal stage of life, for instance, may be low in estrogen and progesterone. Consequently, they don’t ovulate normally, which makes it difficult to time intercourse to improve the chances of conception.

Some women may have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), in which they produce too much testosterone, an androgen (i.e., male hormone). In such cases, we may recommend hormonal birth control to reset your menstrual period. You then discontinue the therapy when it’s time to try conceiving again. 

Your partner might also have low testosterone. Men’s testosterone levels decline as they age, and he may benefit from hormone replacement therapy.

3. Structural abnormalities

Women often have abnormalities in the shape or health of their reproductive organs that makes it more difficult to conceive or carry a child. Some of the more common abnormalities include:

Many structural abnormalities can be improved or rectified with hormonal therapy or surgery.

4. Exposure to toxins

Unfortunately, our high-tech, fast-moving world of convenience comes at a heavy price. Daily exposure to chemicals through our foods, the plastics we use, our personal care products, and even our polluted air can interfere with our fertility.

As part of your healing process, we may recommend switching to a whole-foods diet and eliminating toxins and chemicals from your life as much as possible. We also recommend eliminating toxins that are within your control, such as cigarettes, alcohol, and recreational drugs. If necessary, we refer you to specialized cessation programs.

5. Sperm woes

Your partner may have misshapen sperm, scar tissue that impedes ejaculation, or a low sperm count. We always recommend that your partner be evaluated, too, so that you understand all the factors involved in your infertility. 

You or your partner may also have a medical condition that impedes your ability to become pregnant easily. That’s why your fertility workup is so extensive. If we identify any underlying diseases or conditions, we first diagnose and treat those to improve your health and increase your chances for conception.

To find out why you’re having trouble getting pregnant, call our team at 432-200-9087 for a fertility exam today. You can reach us with our online message form, too.

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