Health Conditions That Might Be Affecting Your Fertility
Fertility issues currently affect between 9% and 15%of couples in the UK. And, while infertility can happen with no obvious cause, there are also some underlying health issues which could be impacting on an individual’s ability to conceive.
Here are six health conditions that might be affecting your fertility.
Endometriosisis thought to affect around one in 10 women and is a condition where tissue which is normally found in the womb lining also starts to grow outside the uterus. The result can be heavy and painful periods as well as cysts and scar tissue forming inside the pelvis, the cervix, the fallopian tubes and even the bowel, leading to chronic pain. When it comes to conceiving, endometriosis can also make it more of a challenge due to inflammation and scarring, which makes it more difficult for an embryo to successfully implant.
Hormone therapy can help to reduce the symptoms of the condition, while surgery can be used to remove endometriosis tissue and scarring.
Non-cancerous tumours which can grow in the uterus, fibroids can cause abdominal pain as well as heavy periods and pain during sex. While most fibroids won’t affect fertility, one type – known as submucosal fibroids – can grow in the lining of the womb, making it more challenging for an embryo to implant as well as raising the risk of miscarriage. Fibroids, however, can be safely removed with surgery.
One health condition which may impact on a man’s fertility is hypogonadism, which leads to where insufficient levels of the hormone testosterone. Low levels of the hormone can affect sperm count as well as a man’s libido and an also impact on the ability to get and sustain an erection. Hypogonadism can be a congenital condition, or can be caused by illness, certain medications, or injury.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
One of the most common causes of infertility in women, polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is where the ovaries become enlarged due to multiple small cysts on the surface. These cysts can then cause a hormonal imbalance which interferes with a woman’s ability to ovulate, or release her eggs, each month. Symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, acne, increased facial and body hair as well as potential issues when it comes to conceiving. The condition can be treated with medication to stimulate ovulation, although IVF treatment may also be needed. During IVF,donor eggs can be used, as women suffering from age-related infertility may have poor egg quality.
Hypothyroidism, where your body can’t make enough T3 and T4 thyroid hormones, can not only leaving you feeling tired, achy, and prone to weight gain, but can also impact on your ability to conceive. And this is because the condition interferes with the normal hormone signals that should trigger the ovaries to release eggs. If hypothyroidism is diagnosed, it can be treated with medication to help balance the out of kilter thyroid hormones.
Premature ovarian failure
Also known as premature ovarian insufficiency, this health condition sees the ovaries lose their normal function in women under the age of 40. Mostly linked to an early menopause, the symptoms include infrequent or absent periods, hot flushes and fatigue, as well as issues with fertility and conceiving. Treatment is usually hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and if needed, IVF.
What to do
If you are under 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year or more (six months for anyone over the age of 35), then do book a visit with your GP, especially if you suspect or have symptoms of an underlying health condition. A correct diagnosis is essential, and you can also be referred to a fertility clinic in London for specialised treatment if starting a family is in your plans.