The Fertility Diaries: When a Friend Is Pregnant — and You're Not
Fertility: The Facts
Trying to conceive can feel anything but normal. Here, how Americans fare in
the quest for baby.
85% of couples will become pregnant without assistance after a year of
regular, unprotected intercourse.
10% of the reproductive-age population is affected by infertility.
43% more babies were born to women ages 35 to 39 in 2004 than in 1990.
40% of the time, the male partner is either the sole cause or a contributing
cause of infertility.
85% to 90% of infertility cases can be treated with conventional therapies
such as a drug treatment (like Clomid) or the surgical repair of reproductive
Sources: American Society for Reproductive Medicine; National Center for
Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When at First You Don't Conceive
If you've been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for more than 12 months
(or six months if you're over 35), visit your ob/gyn. Most gynecologists can
perform the initial tests to help determine the source of the problem, says
Arthur Castelbaum, M.D., codirector of reproductive endocrinology and
infertility at Temple University School of Medicine. Here, what to expect
during your first visits.
Physical exam: After identifying any lifestyle factors that can hinder
conception, such as smoking and obesity, your doctor may perform a transvaginal
ultrasound to help rule out conditions such as fibroids (tissue growth on the
uterus that can block the fallopian tubes), and/or a blood test to determine a
Cycle Day 3 FSH: This blood test, performed on the third day of a woman's
period, measures levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), a hormone that
stimulates the ovaries to produce a mature egg for ovulation. Women are born
with a set number of eggs that decreases with age, so as egg count drops, FSH
levels rise to compensate. In other words, a higher level of FSH indicates that
a smaller number of eggs are available in the "ovarian reserve."
Hysterosalpingogram: A week after your period, a tube is inserted into the
cervix and a dye is pumped into the uterus and fallopian tubes. X-rays are then
taken to detect any abnormalities such as a misshapen uterus (which can impact
conception and successful pregnancy) or uterine fibroids and tumors (which
crowd the uterus and can result in infertility or miscarriage).
Semen analysis: Your partner's semen is checked for volume, concentration,
motility (ability of the sperm to swim), and morphology (the sperm's
appearance). Healthy samples contain 40 million sperm.
Depending on what your tests reveal, your doctor may recommend oral or
injectable fertility medications. But be aware that some doctors prescribe
fertility drugs before performing standard tests. If yours suggests that, save
your money: It's important to determine exactly what factors are affecting your
ability to conceive before proceeding.