Infertility is a very common problem affecting one in six couples in the United States. The rate of infertility increases as a couple gets older, with fertility decreasing significantly after 35. If you and/or your spouse are over the age of 35 and have been attempting pregnancy for 6 months or longer with unprotected intercourse or if you and/or your spouse are under the age of 35 have been attempting pregnancy for 1 year or longer with unprotected intercourse, you may need assistance in achieving pregnancy. The physicians of Henderson & Walton Women’s Center would be happy to discuss with you and your spouse any concerns you may have.
In order to accurately pinpoint the reason for infertility, it is important to be evaluated so the cause can be determined and if possible, treated so the changes of pregnancy can be increased. Your Henderson & Walton physician will obtain a complete medical and sexual history as well as perform a physical exam. If further treatment is recommended, your physician will refer you to our Infertility Department.
Fortunately, almost 90% of all diagnosed cases of infertility can be traced to a specific cause and once the cause is known, many can be successfully treated with medications or surgical interventions. Diagnosing infertility may include;
- A complete medical history of both the male and female
- Screening of a women’s hormone levels
- Basal Body Temperature
- Ovulation Predictor tests
- Hysterosalpingogram to evaluate Fallopian tubes and uterus
- Ultrasonography to monitor maturation of follicles (egg sacs)
- Sims-Huhner (PCT) to evaluate the ability of the sperm to penetrate the cervical mucus
There are many factors related to female infertility. They may include:
- Ovulatory dysfunction
- Hormone imbalances
- Blocked or absent Fallopian tubes
- Scar tissue from previous surgeries/infections
Most female infertility can be treated. For women who do not ovulate regularly, there are medications that can help. Medications such as clomiphene increase the output of hormones that are necessary for ovulation to occur and stimulate development of follicles. Other medications given in injection form such as gonadotropins also stimulate development of follicles in ovaries. These medications can be given alone or in conjunction with each other. During these treatments therapies, a patient is monitored closely by lab work and ultrasonography. If the problem is anatomical, such as blocked Fallopian tubes, scar tissue, ovarian cysts, or endometriosis, there are surgical interventions that might address these problems.
Infertility is just as likely to be caused by male factors as by female factors. Some common causes of male infertility are:
- Poor sperm production or function
- Obstruction of seminal tract
- Undescended testicle
- Ejaculation problems
- Hormonal abnormalities
Males will be recommended to have physical exam and semen evaluation by an urologist. Depending on the diagnosis, men can usually be treated with medication or surgical correction. In cases of decreased sperm counts, artificial insemination may be considered.
Some couples may need more advanced interventions requiring a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist. Your Henderson & Walton physician will be happy to guide you in making the best choice for your family’s future.