Five Reasons You Should Discuss Infertility With Your Doctor

Young women often assume they’re perfectly capable of having a baby and that they have plenty of time to start a family. But that’s not realistic for everyone. Learning about your chances of getting pregnant before you try to conceive gives you time to solve infertility problems.

Over my more than two decades in practice here in Burbank, California, I have discussed proactive fertility planning with many women in the effort to prevent the unpleasant surprise of the inability to get pregnant. If you’re still not convinced it’s important to schedule an infertility evaluation, here are five reasons that may change your mind.

1. Time to conceive is shorter than you think

Having children at a later age continues its upward trend. The proportion of women who waited until they were 30 to have their first child rose 28% from 2000 to 2014. During that same time, first births to women aged 35 and older increased 23%.

It’s fair to believe there’s nothing wrong with waiting to have children, except for one heartbreaking hurdle that many women don’t consider: infertility.

Your age is the biggest factor affecting your chance of a successful pregnancy. Fertility in women peaks between the ages of 20-30 years. By the time women in their 30s begin to plan having children, their chance of becoming pregnant is already slipping away.

Women’s fertility begins to decline from 30-35 years of age, then takes a rapid nosedive after they reach 35. By the time they’re 40, the chance of conceiving drops significantly lower every month.

If you wait until you’re 35 or older to conceive and then learn you also have infertility issues, you’ll have a harder time overcoming the challenges. That’s why it’s important to come in for an infertility evaluation long before you think you’ll want to have a baby.

2. You have risk factors for infertility

If you know you’re at a high risk for infertility, you can take steps to resolve the underlying problem before you decide to get pregnant. It’s time to discuss infertility if you have any of these risk factors:

3. Infertility symptoms may not appear until it’s too late

You can have one of the top causes of infertility – endometriosis – and not be aware of the problem. Endometriosis is often associated with pain, yet an estimated one-third of women with this condition don’t have any symptoms.

Even if you have endometriosis-related pain, the amount of pain doesn’t always reflect the severity of the disease. Some women have severe endometriosis with little-to-no pain, while others with mild disease have severe pain.

About one-third of women with endometriosis are infertile, whether they have symptoms or not. Endometriosis is often first discovered in a workup for infertility.

4. You need chemotherapy

Drugs used to treat cancer damage your DNA, so it’s essential to have a discussion about preserving your fertility before chemotherapy begins.

Even if your oncologist recommends immediate treatment and there’s no time to wait, or you’re not sure you’ll want children in the future, please consult a specialist about preserving your fertility as soon as you’re diagnosed with cancer.

Fertility preservation, or elective egg freezing, is an effective way to save your eggs for future children. If you have the time, the process involves taking medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs, then harvesting the eggs and freezing them. The eggs may also be fertilized with sperm before being frozen.

If time is critical and you need to start chemotherapy, you don’t have to wait to harvest eggs. Specialists can remove and freeze a section of your ovary that contains immature eggs. When you’re ready, the ovarian tissue is placed back into the abdomen, where it grows again.

5. Infertility is more common than you think

For most of their reproductive years, young women assume they are fertile and worry about birth control. Yet an estimated 12-15% of all couples have a hard time conceiving. Infertility is more common than you realize, which is why you shouldn’t wait to make an appointment to have a discussion about your potential risk factors.

What to expect during an infertility consultation

When you decide it’s time to talk about infertility, schedule an infertility consultation. This appointment includes a thorough physical examination and a detailed discussion about your reproductive and sexual history.

Diverse tests will be performed. Some of the tests are standard, and others are administered depending on issues uncovered during your physical exam. A sample of tests to expect include urinalysis, blood tests to detect disease and hormone levels, sperm count, ovulation evaluation, and pelvic ultrasound.

The good news is that most cases of infertility are treated successfully, especially when you plan ahead and get an early consultation to learn about your risk factors. Please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Bardowell or to schedule an appointment online to talk about infertility.

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