HRM HEALTH: Infertility Options

Having Trouble Conceiving? Help is at Hand

Infertility options

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You’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year but get disappointing news every month. You’re not alone; infertility affects one out of every five couples who are trying to conceive, according to the Center for Women’s Health, with offices in Newport News and Hampton. Yes, you have options, including lifestyle changes that could help put a baby in your arms.

The first step toward diagnosis is a general exam, says Dr. Douglas Thom of the Center for Women’s Health. Usually that involves the woman initially because women are usually more acutely concerned about the biological clock.

But responsibility is shared. About 40 percent of infertility problems are linked solely to the female partner; 40 percent are linked to the male partner; and 20 percent are shared, Thom says. “We may find more than one reason,” he says.

Diagnostic tests help determine if and when ovulation is occurring, Thom says. Other tests measure whether the woman’s hormone levels are high enough to allow and support pregnancy, he says.

Thyroid tests may be called for because both an underactive (more likely) or overactive thyroid can prevent pregnancy, he says. If a woman is over 30, early menopause can be an issue, Thom says. Hormone therapy can be helpful for these conditions.

An ultrasound is another diagnostic tool and can help determine if a woman has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can impede pregnancy because eggs aren’t released from the ovaries, Thom says.

Excess weight is a common cause of PCOS, Thom says. One study found that overweight PCOS patients who lost 30 pounds had a 60 percent success rate at getting pregnant, he says. “It was amazing,” he says, while acknowledging that losing the weight can be tough. Thom recommends his overweight patients with PCOS go to Weight Watchers.

On the other hand, being extremely underweight also can cause failure to ovulate, Thom says.

Sometimes PCOS and other causes of failure to ovulate can be treated with fertility drugs, such as Clomid, and sometimes with fertility injections, Thom says.