3 Common Causes of Infertility That You May Not Know You Have!
When it comes to getting pregnant, the road can be tough for some. As many as 13% of women have trouble conceiving and the 12-month wait to be assessed by a fertility clinic can be a long one.
If you have been trying to get pregnant for a couple of months, or longer, here are three reasons, commonly seen in my practice, that you may be having difficulty conceiving.
#1 – Hypothyroidism or Subclinical Hypothyroidism
Your thyroid produces hormones that help to regulate hundreds of processes in the body. This tiny gland does a lot and can greatly impact your fertility. Signs that you may have hypothyroidism include: fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, brittle nails and/or eyebrow thinning. Sadly, this condition is often missed during standard lab testing as TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is often the only parameter looked at and it has a large ‘normal’ reference range. Though your TSH may be within the reference range and deemed ‘normal’, that does not mean that it is necessarily optimal for getting pregnant. Fertility experts say that your TSH should fall between 1-2 to have optimal chances of conceiving. Hypothyroidism may also be missed if a full thyroid panel including T3, T4 and Anti-TPO, is not run. Often times your TSH may appear to be fine but your thyroid is not producing hormones appropriately.
#2 – Low Progesterone
Progesterone is the hormone that dominates the luteal phase (last half) of your cycle post-ovulation. The luteal phase should ideally be 14 days long with a steadily increasing level of progesterone. If your progesterone is low, causing a short luteal phase, your uterine lining will begin to shed before the embryo even has chance to properly implant. Often times low progesterone is due to high levels of our stress hormone, cortisol. Stress management and relaxation techniques are a crucial component of any fertility treatment but are even more so for women experiencing suboptimal levels of progesterone. For the best chances of conceiving, having a progesterone level above 50 is optimal. This can be achieved with either herbs or bio-identical progesterone, if necessary.
#3 – Poor Timing
This may not be pathological, but proper timing of intercourse to conceive is sometimes the key to achieving pregnancy. You are taught in sex-ed class that women ovulate on day 14 of their cycle, but this is not the case for all women. Some women may ovulate on day 10 or day 12, some may not ovulate until day 18 or even day 20! This variation comes from the woman’s length of follicular phase, or the first half of their cycle, which in textbooks tends to be quoted as 14 days. Charting your cycle for at least 3 months prior to trying to conceive can save you a lot of hassle and time by identifying exactly when your 2-3-day fertile window is each month. Cycle charting includes 3 different methods of tracking and assessing your fertility at home; your basal body temperature (BBT), your cervical mucous/fluid and your cervical positioning. Often times difficulty conceiving can be a simple fix of timing intercourse appropriately.
Deciding to start your family is an exciting time for both you and your partner, and although it seems like everyone just gets pregnant once they make the plunge, it does not happen this easily for everyone. Infertility is a struggle often not discussed amongst friends and family members and couples can go years silently suffering.
Your family physician will not refer you to a fertility clinic unless you have been actively trying to conceive for 12 months. The good news is that you do NOT need to wait that long to determine if there are ways to increase your chances of getting pregnant naturally. Your Naturopathic Doctor can run all necessary lab work to assess your fertility, use natural therapies and acupuncture to boost your fertility, and be a trusted shoulder to lean on during this time.
Happy Baby Making!
In love & health,
Dr. Kelsey Duncan, ND