If you are asking ‘Why can’t I get pregnant?’ we have many of the answers. Even if you are just starting out on your fertility journey, our free Fertility Roadshow event will provide you with some helpful advice and guidance.
If you have been trying for less than a year, are fit, healthy and under the age of 30 then a few more months might make all the difference.
If it has been longer than this, or you have a reason why conceiving might not be easy – such as history of menstrual problems or a sporting injury – then getting good advice early will improve your chances of success.
Getting pregnant naturally is hit and miss (despite everything you were told as a teenager), as lots of things have to happen at the same time:
- woman has to produce a mature egg
- man has to produce healthy sperm
- egg has to be released from woman’s ovary into the fallopian tube
- couple need to have sex around the time the egg is released
- sperm have to swim up the vagina, through the womb up into the fallopian tube towards the egg
- egg has to be fertilised by the man’s sperm and form an embryo
- embryo has to embed (plant itself) in the woman’s womb.
At every stage something can go wrong, and even if it gets this far, the embryo sometimes fails to develop properly and the pregnancy is lost as a miscarriage.
Here are six common reasons why women find it hard to get pregnant:
- Ovaries may not be releasing eggs (ovulating) regularly: this affects one third of women and it is a common symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) caused by hormone imbalance.
- Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes: this affects about 15 in 100 women who haven’t been able to get pregnant.
- Endometriosis affects about 5 in 100 women who can’t get pregnant. This is when cells from the lining of the womb (the endometrium) start growing outside the womb, sometimes around the ovaries or fallopian tubes. It can cause severe period pains.
- Age: a woman’s fertility starts decreasing from the age of 35 and more quickly for those over 40.
- Early menopause: this when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. It happens to all women, normally between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can happen earlier.
- Fibroids: large non-cancerous growths called fibroids may stop a fertilised egg from growing in the womb.
Common male factor reasons:
In addition, men also have fertility problems, and the issue could be male factor, female factor or a combination of the two.
Most men with fertility problems have one or all of these problems:
- Too few sperm (low sperm count) or no sperm
- Abnormally shaped sperm, which are unable to move normally or fertilise an egg.
- Sperm that don’t swim well.
Gulp – that is a lot that can go wrong.
Here is the good news
The good news is that you can boost your chances of natural conception … and we can tell you how. There are also tests that show if any of the above reasons apply to you, and many of these problems can be treated, often by medication or surgery, to restore your fertility – we can tell you about this too.
Lastly, if you do need assisted conception such as IVF then you will be talking to the experts – Bourn Hall was the world’s first IVF clinic.