Avoidance & Awareness Can Increase the Chances of Getting Pregnant
Many factors that cause female infertility don’t come to light until a series of negative pregnancy tests, abnormal pap smears or recurrent miscarriage. Dr. Dan Gehlbach devotes attention to raising awareness for infertility risk factors, communicating that simple lifestyle changes can help protect a woman’s reproductive health.
Preventing Female Infertility: Know the Risk Factors
You may have a family history of miscarriage or infertility, or inconsistent ovulation that concerns you. Midwest Reproductive Center provides a checklist that can tip you off to other potential problems.
Age and Infertility: Reproductive endocrinologists will tell you that age and infertility is a major problem in the United States. Waiting to start a family until her late 30s or 40s shrinks a woman’s odds of getting pregnant. Further, advanced maternal age hinders success rates for available fertility treatments, and chances for having a baby without chromosomal disorders.
A fertility specialist like Dr. Gehlbach can run tests to evaluate your ovarian reserve (the number of eggs remaining in your ovaries) and hormone levels. Watch a brief video on age and infertility here.
Body Weight: Maintaining an optimal body mass index (BMI) helps a woman’s reproductive system function at its peak. Regular ovulation depends on hormonal balance; too much or too little body fat can interfere with the body’s estrogen levels. For this reason, women with eating disorders, extreme exercisers like marathon runners and obese women may have trouble conceiving.
Fact: Estrogen is produced in the ovaries as well as in fat cells.
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Diet: Some studies suggest that a diet high in trans fats, animal protein, skim milk and processed foods* can exacerbate infertility. Fertility doctors see a correlation between poor diet and weight gain and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Smoking Cigarettes: While no simple task, quitting cigarette smoking can significantly boost your chances of getting and staying pregnant. Cigarettes negatively impact nearly every function of the reproductive system, so Dr. Gehlbach will encourage you to quit smoking.
Practice Safe Sex: Sexually transmitted diseases can destroy your fertility, so insist on using a condom, see your obgyn for annual visits and seek immediate treatment if you contract an STD.
Limit Alcohol: You have seen the restroom signs: If you suspect you may be pregnant, avoid alcohol. While trying to get pregnant, consider abstaining or limiting alcohol intake. Studies also show that drinking can exacerbate endometriosis, and interfere with ovulation.
Fact: Limit Exposure to Chemicals and Toxins: In some cases, environmental hazards can lead to infertility.
Unavoidable, but Treatable Female Infertility Risk Factors
Internal issues that result from chronic disease or disease management (such as chemotherapy), hormonal imbalance or other physical problems can interfere with a woman’s ability to get pregnant.
Symptoms to Watch
If you are experiencing the following, you may have an underlying cause that could lead to infertility.
• Irregular periods
• Painful periods
• Pain during intercourse
• Pain when urinating
• Spotting or bleeding between periods
• Excessive facial or body hair, acne, weight gain
Rest assured that targeted fertility treatment helps you overcome anatomical issues such as blocked fallopian tubes, and hormonal problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Dr. Gehlbach addresses known risk factors for female infertility in a new patient consultation, and will design a plan to help maximize your chances of getting pregnant. Contact the Midwest Reproductive Center office, or visit our Patient Resource page to learn more about protecting and preserving fertility.