How Can You Prevent Infertility

There are many reasons women have trouble getting pregnant. Some women get pregnant but lose their babies to miscarriages time and time again. Only you can decide whether or not you have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant long enough or have had enough miscarriages that it’s time to try to find a cause for the problem.  

In the United States, about 15 percent of couples struggle to conceive.  About 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, but many miscarriages happen before a woman misses her first period. It’s estimated that as many as 40 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage if one considers those occurirng before a first missed period. 

Learn the Risk Factors 

If you are having trouble getting pregnant or carrying a baby until you can deliver it successfully, a review of the common risk factors for infertility may help you ferret out some areas you might look more closely at for possible causes. 

  • Age 

Age can affect fertility for both men and women. For women your fertility can decrease as you reach 35 or 40. For men, the decrease in fertility doesn’t start until they reach 50 or 55.  

Getting pregnant after 40 involves your body’s Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). If your levels of FSH are high, it indicates that the FSH hormone is calling for the release of an ova, but your body doesn’t have any more eggs to release. Your FSH hormone increases to try to stimulate the release of an egg that is not there.  

Actually, the high level of FSH indicates you are entering pre-menopause. If this is your situation, you are not likely to become pregnant without donor eggs. FSH acts as a fertility drug so for a short time you may have the risk of pregnancy with twins or triplets. I have heard of a 55-year old lady pregnant with triplets. 

  • Tobacco / Alcohol Use 

Tobacco and alcohol use can contribute to your infertility. Although it can also affect women, the effects of tobacco and alcohol seems to appear more in men than in women. Smoking and alcohol drinking can decrease sperm count and can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction. 

  • Weight 

The risk of infertility is higher in women who are underweight or overweight. Eating disorders or an inactive lifestyle can also play a role in infertility. 

  • Endometriosis 

Pregnancy can occur with endometriosis. Sometimes surgery and anti-hormone medications such as Lupron can help with pregnancy. 

The issue of whether endometriosis interferes with pregnancy hasn’t been resolved. Some say up to 80 percent of pregnancies in people with endometriosis result in miscarriages (loss of pregnancy before 20 weeks). The definitive study is yet to be done as to whether endometriosis does or does not cause infertility. 

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome 

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCO) can become pregnant at 50 years of age when pregnancy usually occurs from 18 to 38 years of age. The increase in FSH as you age leads to increased possibility of pregnancy.  

Be careful with menopause. FSH increases and acts like a fertility drug so not only can there be pregnancy, but also the pregnancy can be twins or triplets. Imagine becoming pregnant with triplets at the age of 50. As mentioned above, it does happen. 

  • Recurrent Infection 

Another important and common cause of pregnancy loss is recurrent infection with organisms so common patients are seldom treated for them. Common pathogens (any organism producing disease) include mycoplasma, ureaplasma, and strep B.  

Check-in With Your Doctor 

Even if you have an idea on how to prevent infertility, it may help if you can consult your doctor. They can provide you with more facts and possible treatments in case of complications. They can also give you a medical exam to ensure that you are healthy and are able to conceive. 

Reach out to your healthcare provider for more information about infertility and how you can successfully conceive. One big problem with these infections is they can cause physical symptoms that look like endometriosis. This opens up the possibility of surgery to remove the endometriosis lesions which create adhesions (scar tissue) which may further inhibit pregnancy. 

I began treating these common infections in my patients 40 years ago with great success. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) feels these infections are so common they are not trouble-causing organisms in pregnancy. 

I will never forget a couple who came to me to do something about their inability to get pregnant. They had had in vitro treatments several times, never resulting in a pregnancy. were heading for a foreign country in three weeks. I tested for the common pathogens I knew caused problems in pregnancy. The test for ureaplasma came back positive. This organism can make a woman’s vaginal mucous very hostile to sperm. I treated both the woman and her husband with doxycycline. 

Six weeks later I received a call that the woman was pregnant. Eight months later I received a call that the patient had delivered a healthy girl with normal weight and normal Apgars. 

There is an important lesson here for woman suffering from infertility and multiple miscarriages. Never overlook the obvious and the $300 successful maternity treatment. 

 

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Dr. Alan Lindemann

Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB/GYN)​

He is an obstetrician and maternal mortality expert with 4 decades of medical practice beginning in Minnesota and presently in North Dakota. He has delivered around 6,000 babies with zero maternal deaths.