If you’ve been trying to have a child without success, it could mean you’re infertile, or it could mean there’s something blocking the reproductive process — anything from spotty periods to problems with your pituitary gland.
Medically, a couple is considered infertile if they’ve tried to become pregnant for a year without success. If the woman is over 35, the length of time drops to six months. Infertility doesn’t include either miscarriages or an inability to carry a baby to term.
At the OB/GYN office of Dr. Hany H Ahmed in Houston, Texas, Dr. Ahmed and his team understand the sadness and frustration that come with infertility, which is why they provide evidence-based, innovative treatments for couples struggling to have a child.
If you, too, are struggling, here’s how to deal with the problem.
What causes infertility?
Infertility can be caused by problems with the female or male reproductive systems, or both. Here, we look at the female system.
Underlying problems that can lead to infertility include:
- Irregular menstruation
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Past ectopic pregnancy
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Pituitary gland disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and primary ovarian insufficiency
- Endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and/or uterine polyps
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid disease
By far, the most common issue that interferes with fertility is PCOS, a hormonal imbalance that affects ovulation.
Steps to determine if you’re infertile
If you’ve been unable to conceive, make an appointment with Dr. Ahmed for a fertility evaluation. The goals are to rule out potential causes of the problem and to identify whatever’s leading to your inability to become pregnant.
The doctor starts with a complete medical history to ensure you don’t have a nonreproductive medical problem interfering with your fertility. If you do, addressing it may clear up the problem of getting pregnant.
If the history doesn’t turn up anything, Dr. Ahmed runs a number of tests that may include:
- Pelvic exam: checks for structural problems or signs of disease; includes a Pap smear
- Blood test: checks hormone levels, including thyroid and pituitary hormones
- Transvaginal ultrasound: takes images of the reproductive organs
- Saline sonohysterogram: uses saline as part of a transvaginal ultrasound
- Hysteroscopy: examines the uterus with a thin, lighted tube (hysteroscope)
- Hysterosalpingogram: injects dye into fallopian tubes; uses X-rays to detect blockages
In addition, Dr. Ahmed may conduct a laparoscopy. He makes a small abdominal incision and inserts a laparoscope (thin tube with a camera) to look for issues like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and scar tissue.
Your options for infertility treatment
If you’re infertile or just having a hard time becoming pregnant, we have options that can be game-changers.
If your problem stems from ovulation issues, fertility drugs can alter the levels of your reproductive hormones to stimulate ovulation.
Surgery is an option for blockages and growths. We offer procedures that open blocked fallopian tubes and/or remove uterine fibroids and polyps. Surgery for endometriosis, where the uterine lining grows outside the uterus, doubles your chances of getting pregnant.
Dr. Ahmed also offers more proactive fertility treatments, including:
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI): fertilizes egg in uterus
- In vitro fertilization (IVF): combines sperm and egg in a dish; implants in the uterus
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): injects sperm near the egg
- Third-party assisted reproductive technology (ART): uses donor sperm and/or egg
He discusses all the possibilities with you at your consultation.
If you’re having a hard time getting pregnant, get checked out to learn the underlying cause of the problem. Dr. Ahmed can help. To get started, give the office a call or schedule online.