Why am I not getting pregnant?
Why am I not getting pregnant?
What is infertility
Infertility can be described as the inability to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of having regular unprotected sex. This means that you cannot be classified as being infertile if you have been trying to conceive for less than 12 months. Generally, fertility challenges or infertility affects about 9 to 15% of couples and this can be caused by either the man and/or woman.
Women can be attributed to about a third of infertility cases and another third can be attributed to men while the last third has to do with both partners or can’t be explained. So in effect, both men and women are equally responsible when it comes to infertility cases in couples.
Causes of infertility in women
In women, infertility can be caused by a combination of different factors which can include;
- Health and nutrition choices
- Lifestyle choices eg excessive smoking and drinking
- Ovulation problems
- Hormonal imbalances
- Anatomical problems
- Genetic conditions
- Serious infections
Why People Are Often Misled to Believe They Are Infertile?
Women are known to have a fixed number of immature eggs in their ovaries at birth and this number decreases with age. They typically start with about 2 million eggs at birth which reduces to about 25,000 by the age of 37. Assuming everything is remains normal, the number and quality of eggs in the ovaries help determine how fertile or infertile one is. As a result, fertility generally tends to reduce with age and it is therefore easy to classify or misdiagnose one as infertile.
Below are 5 reasons why people may be misled to think they are infertile;
- After unsuccessfully trying for a couple of months to conceive. Naturally, when a couple fails to conceive after trying for a couple of months, they may be inclined to think that one of them may be infertile. In reality, this may not be the case as statistically speaking, if you’re under 35, you have about a 17% chance of conceiving in any given month. You may only be diagnosed as infertile after not being able to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse.
- Overlooking the most obvious issues. Seeking help from a medical expert when faced with fertility challenges is important in your journey towards parenthood. However, in some cases, these doctors who tend to cost a lot of money are trained to diagnose issues using high-tech procedures to justify their fees. As a result, they may overlook the most obvious and cheaper options. For example, a couple that has unprotected sex twice a week for a year without getting pregnant may immediately think that they have fertility issues without considering whether the couple is having intercourse at the right time in the woman’s cycle. It is very possible to have intercourse twice a week for a year and still miss the fertile window in each cycle. This clearly shows a lack of understanding or education and is not a fertility-related problem.
- Basal body temperature or Cervical fluid – Basal body temperature which refers to your temperature when you are fully at rest is connected to ovulation. Ovulation causes your basal body temperature to increase slightly and by tracking this, you will be able to predict when you are most fertile. Cervical fluid refers to the fluid that is secreted by the cervix and shed through the vagina. This fluid helps keep the vagina healthy, provides lubrication, and helps protect it against infection. This is a key sign for timing intercourse to get pregnant and tracking and monitoring this will help you identify your fertile days. It is important to track and monitor both and the exclusion of either one of them may mislead you to believe that you’re infertile.
- Timing of fertility test – There are over-the-counter test kits that are readily available to help test for fertility in both men and women. For example, one can easily get a semen test kit to help check for the quality of semen. Depending on the timing for such a test, the outcomes may differ. For example, habitual alcohol consumption is associated with reduced semen quality and if you carry out a semen test around a time when you have consumed excessive alcohol, the result may differ from someone who has had little or no alcohol. Another test that can be performed is the postcoital test to determine if the man’s sperm are swimming freely in the woman’s cervical fluid. This test takes place a couple of hours after intercourse to determine whether the woman’s cervical fluid is conducive to sperm viability and whether the man’s sperm will survive in it. Depending on the timing of this procedure, the couple may miss the fertile days when the woman is ovulating. As a result, they may be wrongly classified as being infertile when in reality they may not.
- Misapplication of ovulatory drugs – To help increase your chances of conception, some women are often needlessly prescribed ovulatory drugs whether or not she is ovulating. The purpose of taking these drugs is to help stimulate egg development in the ovaries, however, some of these medications can dry up or decrease the quality of your cervical fluid which is important for transporting semen through the cervix. So, while these drugs are given to help increase your fertility, they can, ironically, act to reduce it which may then give you the impression that you’re infertile. It is therefore important to use such medication under proper advice.
Infertility may only be diagnosed when a couple has been trying to conceive after having unprotected sex for at least 12 months without being successful. There are a good number of reasons and factors that may lead couples to believe that they are infertile when in reality they may not. Some of these factors include the timing of the fertility test and the misapplication of ovulatory drugs. The physical and emotional impacts of such misdiagnosis are far-reaching and couples need to be properly informed and educated before making such conclusions. The cost of fertility treatments can be in the thousands of pounds and mostly not covered by standard insurance policies so couples must monitor and track all activities and signs that may help them increase their chances of getting pregnant.
Warhus, S., 2011. Fertility demystified. New York: McGraw Hill Professional.
Weschler, T., n.d. Taking charge of your fertility.