There are at least 2 million cases of female infertility documented in the United States of America each and every year. For most of these women, the cause of their infertility is never conclusively diagnosed, and modern medicine is yet to provide comprehensive female infertility treatment. Various known and unknown factors contribute to female infertility. If you have been diagnosed with infertility, you are probably desperate to understand more about female infertility and find out what alternative cures and female infertility treatments are available.
What is Female Infertility?
A woman is considered to be medically infertile if she has been having sex, without any form of contraceptive, for 12 months and has been unable to become pregnant. Fertility is described in a medical sense as being either:
* First Degree Infertility – women that have never had children
* Second Degree Infertility – women that have had children, but are unable to conceive a second time
It is vitally important to make the distinction between infertility and sterility. Sterility is the term used to describe women that are completely unable to conceive their own children. Female infertility describes the difficulty that women experience in trying to conceive. Being infertile does not mean that you will never be able to have children. Exploring various female infertility treatment options will improve your chance of conception, and carrying a full term, healthy baby.
What causes female infertility?
There are several known causes of female infertility, some of these include:
* Ovulation disorders – ovulation fails to occur due to hormonal imbalances. Failure to ovulate can result in irregular or absent periods. The hormonal imbalance that contributes to failed ovulation has been attributed to factors such as extremely low or high body weight, excessive exercise, prolonged emotional distress and thyroid problems. Other causes of ovulation disorders include endometriosis or PCOS.
* Damage to the reproductive organs – damage to the delicate fallopian tubes, caused by pelvic inflammation (from STDs or Appendicitis) is the culprit for around 25 percent of female infertility cases. Other physical damage to the reproductive organs that contributes to female infertility includes damage and abnormalities to the cervix and uterus, for example fibroids.
* Hormonal imbalances – as you have already seen hormonal imbalances in women can result in failed ovulation and consequent infertility. Imbalance of progesterone can prevent the woman’s body from being able to maintain pregnancy
* Chronic Miscarriage – Some infertile women may be conceiving, but are regularly losing the conception. Miscarriage can be caused by Thyroid problems, defective egg or sperm, hormone imbalance, malnutrition, drugs, trauma and deficiencies to the immune system.
* Nutritional deficiencies – there are certain nutrients that have been found to particularly influence the health of the reproductive system.
* Psychological and emotional factors – Emotions affect your body and your health. When it comes to understanding and treating female infertility, the mind-body connection is becoming an important focus. So far it has been estimated that around 5% of female infertility is caused by psychological and emotional factors.
Science and medicine is just beginning to understand the ways in which certain nutrients and behaviors can effect, and in many cases enhance and restore fertility. Some doctors are willing to admit that there are many areas of female infertility which are yet to be fully understood, and unfortunately there is reluctance within the medical community to recommend vitamins and diet advice over drugs and surgery – even when vitamins are being proven to be more and more effective as a female infertility treatment.
Female Infertility – The Big Mistake I Made
I would like to share my personal experience with you, to give you some personal insight on what a ‘God Send’ learning the truth about infertility was for me.
I was diagnosed with Endometriosis about 5 years ago, when I was only 23. At the time, I was more concerned with the monthly pain and discomfort, than the long term fertility implications.
A year later however, I met and fell head-over-heels in love with Nick. Although, in the beginning, planning a family couldn’t have been further from our minds. However, the endometriosis played hell with our sex life, and I was constantly feeling guilty for declining sex with the man I loved.
It couldn’t have come as more of a supprise to me, when 2 years later, Nick proposed to me. I hadn’t really imagined that marriage was on the cards so early into our relationship, especially with all of the ‘bedroom’ issues constantly hanging guiltily over my head. Wedding plans instantly took over our lives, somewhere amongst all of the planning; we started to discuss beginning our own family.
We were married a year later in a fairy-tale ceremony, everything seemed to be so perfect, we were starting our new life together, we had plans for travel and starting a family.
Soon after the honey-moon we decided to start trying for our first child. Sex was still unbelievably painful for me, and while I did my best to put on a brave face, the forced encounters soon became too much, and we decided to visit a fertility doctor.
I will never forget the feeling of absolute devastation and embarrassment I felt when the doctor returned with the infertility diagnosis. Not only was my endometriosis causing obstructions to ovulation, but the spread of the endometrial tissue to my ovaries, had caused severe scarring. All of these factors combined, made me highly infertile. The doctors said it was unlikely that I would ever have my own children. I felt as though I had betrayed Nick and almost as if I had tricked him into marrying me, and out of a normal family life with someone else.
Nick was as supportive as ever, and held my hand through the succession of corrective surgeries I had over the next few months. Nothing really seemed to help, I definitely wasn’t any closer to getting pregnant, and to compound everything I started having panic attacks before sex because I had formed such strong psychological links between, sex, pain and infertility.
Looking back, I was sunk so low in my own internal misery, that I did not notice that all of the stress was taking a heavy toll on my patient and loving husband, and on our marriage. Nick and I were spending more and more time doing separate things, our sex life was non-existent, and all hopes and plans for the future were off the table or on hold. That time in our lives was really and truly hell.
Nick must really, really love me because he never left me for someone else more fertile, and in fact, it was Nick who slowly started to pull me out of my depressive slump. Even though I had all but given up, he never ever lost sight of our dream of having a family. Nick encouraged me to re-visit our hopes and dreams, together we were able to slowly re-kindle the burning desire to have a family.
We started to explore alternative options for having a family, like surrogacy or adoption, and although, these options felt like second-rate alternatives, at least now we had something to look forward to. Looking back, I am so glad that we were open to these options, because it was through reading about the alternatives that we learned that infertility and sterility are completely different things. We had assumed, or been lead to believe that infertility and sterility are one in the same. This was my first major break though, now I felt like there really was hope.
Because I had assumed that my infertility diagnosis meant I would never be able to have children, and I all but gave-up on ever having a family of my own.
After a few weeks of pursuing alternative treatment, I found myself smiling again. Slowly Nick and I were able to strengthen our relationship and rebuild our sex life. Our diets changed and lifestyle habits improved, we both began to feel happier and healthier than we had for quite some time! As we progressed through the plan I found that I was more and more open to some more alternative treatments, and I started trying acupuncture and acupressure therapy.
Then, one chilly July morning, the amazing happened:
I had nervously been waiting since my last fertility phase(time that I ovulated) to take a pregnancy test, and see if all of the effort had paid off. At about 6 o’clock in the morning, I snuck into the ensuite to take the test…
Poor Nick was woken from his peaceful slumber by my screams; I had a positive test.
Nick was thrilled, and had this I-always-knew-it-would happen, grin on his face. But I was still a little unconvinced, I took another 2 tests just to be sure, and they too returned positive results. We were pregnant!!
The next few months take on a kind of surreal golden glow in my mind; it seemed that with the help of some extra help and knowledge, we had managed to achieve the impossible. I was really going to be a mother, Nick a father, finally we could realise our dreams and have a family.
Since the birth of my first, Chloe, I have dedicated my time (around being an overjoyed first time mum) to ensuring that there is a wealth of accessible and accurate information available to couples with fertility issues. I want to make sure that others don’t make the same mistake that we did – of thinking that the doctor’s diagnosis of infertility meant that I could not get pregnant, and we could not have a family.