View Full Version : Trying to Get Pregnant? 10 Fertility Blunders

7th March 2011, 08:12 PM
Having trouble getting pregnant? These 10 common obstacles – from vitamin A to personal lubricants – may be to blame. Plus, find out how to boost your fertility.

Getting pregnant is a snap, right? You’ve got the partner, it’s the right time of life (and month) – so let the baby-making begin!

Not so fast.

Experts say fertility problems – such as advancing age, a history of sexually transmitted diseases, weight issues and a low ***** count – can put the brakes on reproduction.

So while conception is a slam-dunk for some, many others struggle to get pregnant.

“A healthy 20-year-old has only a 20%-25% chance of getting pregnant each cycle,” says John Norian, M.D., a fertility specialist at Loma Linda University’s Center for Fertility in California.

Here are the top 10 fertility missteps:

1. Waiting too long

You’re approaching 40 and still holding off on motherhood, wanting to climb one more rung on the career ladder. Besides, even women at age 55 bear children (with someone else’s eggs, in most cases). So what difference does a few more years make?

A lot. Although you may be as fit as a teenager – exercising and eating healthfully – by age 42, your eggs are on life support, fertility experts say.

As a woman ages, her number of eggs and their quality drop dramatically, says fertility specialist Mousa Shamonki, M.D., director of in vitro fertilization and assisted reproduction at University of California - Los Angeles' School of Medicine.

Conception by the time a woman is in her late 30s and early 40s is difficult, and it becomes nearly impossible after age 45, Shamonki says.

“Their bodies aren’t designed evolutionarily to get pregnant as easily later as when they’re in their teens and 20s,” she says.

Usually, conception happens when an egg cell is released from a woman’s ovary, travels through a fallopian tube, and is fertilized by a man’s *****. The fertilized egg undergoes many cell divisions on its way to the uterus, where it implants and grows.

Embryo quality, however, diminishes as mothers-to-be age, while the possibility of chromosomal abnormalities increases, says Shari Brasner, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist affiliated with Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

“Biologically, Mother Nature doesn’t care what your reasons are for delaying childbearing,” says Barry Brock, M.D., assistant clinical professor at UCLA’s department of obstetrics and gynecology.

His advice: “If you’ve found your life partner and want kids, don’t wait.”

2. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Oh, those college liaisons. So spontaneous, so passionate, so unprotected. Many produce an unwelcome outcome: STDs.

Genital human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted infection. It can result in cervical dysplasia, an abnormal growth of cells, and cancer, if undetected, says Shamonki.

By the end of college, 70% of students have been infected with HPV, adds Shamonki. That can increase the risk of developing dysplasia. Procedures to remove those abnormal cells sometimes make it difficult to get pregnant or carry a baby to term.

Chlamydia is another fertility ne’er-do-well. About 2.8 million cases of chlamydia and 718,000 cases of gonorrhea, which can co-exist with chlamydia, occur each year in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Untreated, about 10%-15% of women with chlamydia develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can damage the fallopian tube and tissues in and near the uterus and ovaries, according to the CDC. As many as 93% of women who’ve had a fallopian-tube abscess due to PID cannot become pregnant afterward.

Chlamydia also can cause fallopian-tube infections without any symptoms, permanently damaging the tubes, uterus and surrounding tissue. Other women may face a potentially life-threatening ectopic, or tubal, pregnancy.

Even more STDs can affect labor and delivery, says Brasner.

“Women with active herpes infections at the time of delivery need cesarean sections,” she says, because the mother’s disease can lead to potentially fatal infections in babies.

Vaccines are available to protect girls and women against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers and genital warts. They are recommended for girls and women up to age 26, according to the CDC.

“The HPV vaccine for pre-adolescents and adolescents should be a very high priority,” says David Soper, M.D., director of the Division of Gynecology and General Obstetrics at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

3. ***** count
Fertility doesn’t depend on women alone. Men’s ***** must pass muster too.

A low ***** count – fewer than 20 million ***** per milliliter of semen – means that the fluid the man ejaculates during an ****** has too few *****. A normal ejaculation should contain at least 39 million *****, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Some causes of a low ***** count:

* Infection: Chlamydia, gonorrhea and other infections can cause scarring in the testes that prevents passage of *****.

* Hormone imbalances: Low testosterone, the result of abnormalities of certain glands, may cause infertility.

* Medications: Long-term anabolic steroid use, certain antibiotics (such as tetracyclines, erythromycin and neomycin) and some ulcer medicines (such as Tagamet) can impede fertility, according to Harvard Health Publications.

Don’t worry, though. A woman can get pregnant even if her partner’s ***** underperform. Conception can occur with a low ***** count, but it often takes longer, says Norian. Treating low ***** count with medication (if the problem is hormonal) often helps boost the odds.

4. You can be too thin
You’ve decided to take the pregnancy plunge. Fearing the weight gain that comes with it, you hit the treadmill like a college track star before you conceive, and achieve a weight worthy of a magazine cover.

Big mistake.

Lack of fat can slow production of the hormones needed for ovulation (which includes estrogen), says Norian.

“Estrogen and testosterone [the latter of which stimulates ***** production] come from cholesterol,” he says. So, “a little fat is OK.”

Plus, “your body tells you when you have weight trouble,” Brock adds. “If you lose your periods, gain some weight.”

Ask your doctor to determine your ideal weight to optimize fertility.

5. Too much weight
Don’t start eating for two before conception. Overweight women may also face problems getting pregnant.