How Does Infertility Affect Patients Interested In Pregnancy?

Infertility is a medical condition that prevents women from conceiving and carrying a child to term. Doctors diagnose patients with infertility when the person cannot conceive after a year of trying. Patients aged 35 and older are considered infertile if the person struggles with conception after 6 months of trying. Researchers believe approximately 11% of US women deal with infertility.


The journey from ovulation to conception

Ovulation is the key to pregnancy. During ovulation, the ovaries within the female reproductive system release an egg into the fallopian tubes. The egg has 24 hours to be fertilized by sperm so that an embryo forms. A fertilized egg develops when sperm cells travel through the uterus to mate with the egg in the fallopian tube. The resulting embryo attaches to the uterine lining to grow and develop into a fetus.

The role of essential ovulation hormones

Before the egg is released, the brain secretes gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). This hormone triggers the pituitary gland to produce 2 different hormones: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). FSH prompts the egg follicles to produce estrogen to thicken the uterine lining. Then, LH intervenes to make the ovaries release an egg, signaling the start of ovulation.

What happens if I have an irregular menstrual cycle?

An irregular menstrual cycle can lead to fertility because the irregularity disrupts the menstrual cycle. Many people with irregular cycles do not release an egg during ovulation or the egg is immature and cannot be fertilized. Furthermore, the ovulation cycle can occur at different times each month which makes tracking ovulation difficult. The average interval for a regular menstrual cycle is 21-35. Any cycle shorter than 21 days or longer than 35 days is considered irregular.

Factors that contribute to irregular periods

One of the main causes of an irregular period is a hormone imbalance. The body may produce too much or too little of hormones like estrogen or FSH. Medical conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) cause hormone imbalances by producing too many androgens. Other issues such as thyroid disorders can affect the pituitary gland’s ability to produce hormones. Weight is another contributing factor. Being underweight or overweight can lead to hormone fluctuations.

Can an irregular menstrual cycle be corrected?

Doctors must examine the patient to understand a person’s menstrual cycle. The examination includes a physical exam, questions regarding medical history, and possibly imaging tests. Physicians must first identify the cause of the irregular period before creating a treatment plan. Some irregular cycles are caused by growths and blockages within the uterus or fallopian tubes that require surgery.

Conceiving a child

Conception occurs when the fertilized egg starts growing in the uterus. Conception is dependent on both healthy eggs and healthy sperm cells. Abnormal sperm cells or a low sperm count will make fertilization difficult. Couples struggling to conceive should consult a physician and undergo testing to determine the underlying cause of fertility issues. A physician can also refer patients to a fertility specialist to discuss options like assisted reproductive technology.