For some, getting pregnant is easy. For many, however, getting pregnant is a difficult and frustrating process. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 7.3 million women suffer from infertility, which is defined as the inability to get pregnant after six to 12 months of trying to conceive (TTC). This number averages to 1 in 8 women who are battling infertility every day.
With infertility comes uncertainty and a long list of questions, and there are resources available to help understand some of the causes and available treatment options. The American Fertility Association (The AFA) is a preeminent organization that helps people create and build families by offering leading-edge outreach programs and timely education information, focused on infertility prevention and treatment. They provide materials and services, free of charge, to everyone without reservation.
e.p.t® is proud to partner with The AFA in support of its mission to make the world a place where all hopeful parents could have a child.
While there is no single explanation for why some couples have a hard time getting pregnant, there are various factors that have been identified as affecting fertility:
Age. About one-third of couples in which the woman is over 35 years experience fertility problems.1 As a woman ages, her ovaries become less able to release eggs. She also has a smaller number of eggs left and the eggs she does have may not be as healthy as they used to be. If you are a woman over 35 who is trying to conceive, talk to your doctor.
Smoking. Smoking has many negative health effects on the body. One that is not often talked about is reducing fertility. In fact, smoking can dramatically reduce fertility in both women and men. In men, smoking has been found to significantly reduce sperm count. If either you or your partner smoke and are looking to get pregnant, now is the perfect time to quit!
Stress. Although there is no large-scale scientific study that establishes a link between stress and fertility, more and more doctors are acknowledging a relationship between the two. Smaller studies suggest that stress-reduction techniques can improve fertility. If the frustration of infertility is causing anxiety in the life of you and your partner, take time to unwind and reduce the stress in your mind and body.
Food. An increasing number of studies are citing a link between food and fertility. In fact, in a study published in OB/GYN News, researchers found that 79% of infertile couples had a lower than average intake of foods high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables.2 Eating a nutritious diet and maintaining a healthy weight can boost your fertility, not to mention increase your overall health.
Sleep. It may sound simple: get enough sleep. But being sleep-deprived can affect your cycle, making your periods more irregular, and thus, making ovulation harder to pinpoint. So get the sleep you need to keep your body functioning smoothly.
Excess alcohol use. In both men and women, excessive alcohol use can lead to fertility problems. Too much alcohol consumption can cause ovary and ovulation problems and can interfere with healthy sperm development. For couples looking to conceive, it is important to stay within healthy boundaries of alcohol consumption or to avoid alcohol altogether.
If you and your partner have not been able to conceive after a year of trying (or after 6 months of trying if you’re over the age of 35), you may want to talk with your doctor about all the options that exist to boost your fertility.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Infertility/index.htm. Accessed July 2011.
MacNeil JS. Trial finds infertile couples low in antioxidants: most did not meet the standard recommendation of five servings per day of fruit and vegetables. OB/GYN News. June 2005.
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