Menstruation is normally a woman's first experience in the sector of women's health, but the area of most concern, medically speaking, tends to be fertility. About 10 percent of women have some type of difficulty conceiving and seek a doctor's guidance in helping them to have a child.
But did you know that if you have trouble conceiving, it might just be the fault of a medical condition that's been lurking in your system undiagnosed? If you're not having any luck getting pregnant and want to start ruling out conditions that could impact your fertility, then here's what you need to know.
1. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Also known as PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition where your body produces more androgens (male hormones) than it should. This can result in increased hair growth (hirsutism), irregular periods, cysts on your ovaries, and, yes, dampened fertility.
Women with PCOS most often do not ovulate (either often or at all) without some sort of medication helping them to do so, which makes conceiving naturally incredible difficult. Though this syndrome is not uncommon — it's estimated that between 5 and 10 percent of women have PCOS — it's only now starting to be diagnosed more commonly.
If you have any of the above symptoms, or other symptoms including weight gain, bad acne, depression, a period that doesn't stop (menorrhagia), or a total cessation of your periods (amenorrhea), you may want to talk to a doctor in the near future.
Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrium (a layer of tissue that should grow on the interior of the uterus) grows on the outside of your uterus instead. Endometriosis' main symptoms are pelvic pain — particularly during your period — and infertility, but you could also have urinary tract problems and pain during sex.
Endometriosis, like PCOS, is much more common than you might think, given that it's not an illness that you hear about all that often; studies estimate that around 6 to 10 percent of women are affected by this condition. If you have any of the above symptoms, and especially if you have frequent pain during sex, go talk to a doctor.
An autoimmune disease that became more of a household name due to its frequent mentions on medical television dramas, lupus is a condition where your body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue as if it were unhealthy. This condition affects 1.5 million Americans, and women of childbearing age have a greater risk for developing it.
A few symptoms are hair loss, swollen joints, a butterfly-shaped rash (usually on the face across the cheeks and nose) and trouble with fertility.
Not only is it harder to get pregnant with lupus, but once you are pregnant, it can be hard to keep the pregnancy. Women with lupus have higher rates of miscarriage and fetal death within the womb than other women, and the chances of getting and staying pregnant through all three trimesters can go down if your lupus flares up during that time period.
If you have any of the above symptoms, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
Things to Remember
Fertility is a complicated issue that both you and your partner (or whoever is providing sperm to fertilize your egg) need to be engaged and involved in to get the proper answers as to why you're having difficulty conceiving. However, ruling out these illnesses is a good place to start to ensure that you don't spend money on fertility treatments that your body won't cooperate with.
For more information on fertility and other women's health issues, as well as to schedule an appointment or learn more about the services we provide, visit North Park OB-GYN, PC, at our website today.