Sexual Supplement

Know the causes of female infertility

Are you concerned about your infertility? If you haven't been able to get pregnant after trying for at least one year, there may be fertility problems. However, this doesn't mean you will never get pregnant. Read on to find out what might cause fertility problems and what can you do about it.

Fertility: Do I need to get tested?

When a female reaches a certain age, the chances of conceiving are dramatically reduced. Fertility, in fact, halves by the time a woman turns 35, making it paramount she begins family planning sooner rather than later if she wants to have children. It is not just age that influences fertility though, with hormonal problems and complications from sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) also impacting on a woman's ability to get pregnant.

How long before I need to take a fertility test?

If you and your partner have just started trying for a baby and are both below the age of 35, there is really no need to worry if you have not conceived straight away. Figures suggest 85 per cent of couples conceive within the first 12 months of trying, rising to 95 per cent within two years. It is advisable, however, for those who have been trying for around 18 months to visit their GP. They will often be offered a fertility test to determine whether or not they can have children. Home fertility tests are also another way to determine if there are any barriers to conception you need to be aware of.

What causes infertility?

As previously mentioned, age has a large impact on a woman's chances of conceiving. Other physical and lifestyle factors come into play too, so it is important to take care of your health. It has been suggested smoking 20 cigarettes a day is enough to speed up the menopause by two years, so one simple way to promote fertility is to avoid lighting up. You also need to take care of your sexual health, with STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea potentially damaging your reproductive organs. Alcohol can also influence fertility, so be careful not to binge and stick to the recommended allowance of no more than one or two units per day.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects millions of females across the UK and can inhibit their chances of getting pregnant. Polycystic ovaries contain harmless cysts no bigger than 8mm which contain eggs that have not properly developed. In many cases of PCOS, eggs are not released so ovulation does not take place. Although it is not known what causes PCOS, it is believed to run in families, so if someone related to you has suffered with the condition, it may be time to get checked out.

What questions will my doctor ask?

If you do decide to see a doctor about your fertility, be prepared to open up about your body, sexual history and lifestyle in general. Your GP is likely to question you on such topics as birth control, how often you have sex and your intake of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. They might also want to know if you have ever been exposed to dangerous toxins and chemicals and will question if you have ever had a child or conceived before.

All this can be a little daunting but it is paramount you solve your fertility problems as quick as possible. The longer you leave a fertility problem undetected, the more likely it is to reduce your chances of starting a family. However, there is a good chance of success for those who seek help early and get the assistance they need to have children.