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Pre-Pregnancy | Fertility

When Conception Isn’t So Easy

In today’s society where instant gratification is the order of the day, results that are not forthcoming in our set timeframes are regarded as failures. Conceiving is no different. Many couples envisage falling pregnant on their honeymoon to fit in with their perfect love story. The truth of the matter is generally quite different, as the majority of couples don’t get it right on their first or even second try. The question that then arises is: are we experiencing conception difficulties?

By definition infertility is the inability to conceive after a year of regular unprotected sex if the woman is under the age of 35, or after six months if the woman is over the age of 35. As a rule you should see your gynaecologist after a year of trying without success. A gynae will be able to check for some common causes of infertility, as well as give advice as to what course of action to take.


When looking into infertility there are several areas in which problems can occur. In females  ovulation, fallopian tube or uterine problems are possible causes, while  problems in the male reproductive system are also common.

Approximately 30 percent of all fertility problems stem from a failure to ovulate. Failure to ovulate can in some cases be a temporary or intermittent problem, but in others this problem may be permanent. There are many causes for failure to ovulate. A woman may be experiencing a hormonal problem, going through early menopause or even training or exercising too hard. If a woman suffers extreme weight problems by being either extremely under or overweight, ovulation might not occur – i.e. an anorexic woman’s body will not ovulate. Other causes that a doctor might look for are ovarian cysts as well as a few genetic disorders.

About 20 percent of infertility cases can be attributed to fallopian tube or uterine problems. Endometriosis is a condition whereby tissue that ordinarily lines the uterus is found outside of the uterus. This tissue is “trapped” in the pelvic area and cannot be released from the body, as would ordinarily happen when menstruation occurs. Endometriosis can affect the ovaries, uterus and other nearby organs. It is often characterised by painful periods as well as lower abdominal pain. Any previous infections or surgeries to the fallopian tubes can cause scarring and damage, and hence affect your chances of falling pregnant. Fibroids and cysts can also cause fallopian tubes to not function correctly.

As in women, men can also be the party responsible for infertility. Men are not exempt from the same hormonal problems as women, which may lead to a low or non-existent sperm cont. Genetic faults can lead to a man not being able to produce sperm at all. Some medical and narcotic drugs can lead to sperm count being very low while, infection and tumours of the testes can also lead to complications. Men should not be exposed to excessive heat, such as hot baths or continuous sauna use, as this can also lead to low sperm production.

Should you involve your doctor, he would generally advise that both husband and wife be examined in order to find out where the problem lies. The doctor should also be made aware of all past illnesses which you have had in order to construct a full and accurate medical history. Once all this information has been collected, you may be required to have some tests run. Men will have a semen analysis test performed, which will measure the sperm count. Women will have blood tests run in order to determine whether ovulation does in fact take place. This test, performed on the 21st day of your cycle, measures the level of progesterone in the blood – a hormone which will be of a substantial level after ovulation.

After these tests have been performed, and depending on the results, your doctor may refer you to an appropriate specialist. A specialist is generally sought out after about eighteen months of not being able to fall pregnant.

Treating fertility problems can be quite complex. Should it be found that either the male or female has a hormonal problem, however, the problem can more often than not be resolved with relative ease. If the doctors can’t find a cause for the infertility, or if the problem is not rectifiable, there are other options open to consider. Medically aided conceptions have become rather advanced and many couples have been able to conceive as a result. Artificial insemination, although an expensive option, has been used with much success in the past. Other alternatives, such as egg donation or surrogacy, are also available to you, while adoption will give a child in need the opportunity to have a life of love and joy with parents who really want a child.

The best action to take if you find that you are experiencing infertility problems is to stay calm. Stress is known to cause problems in itself, so remaining level headed will give you a better chance of success. Try to keep in mind that conception will happen when the time is right. If natural conception is not possible, there are many other avenues open to you.

2 Responses to “When Conception Isn’t So Easy”

  1. Megan says:

    Hi there

    A year ago they diagnosed me with PCOS and my husband sperm count is low and since then we have been struggling to conceive for me it has been mentally and physically challenging. I have reached that stage where all i think about is having a baby.
    We started with a homeopath last year October she started using Bowntech on us.
    I have been stuffering with terrible pain down by my overies.
    I really dont know what to do anymore should i continue with the homeopath or go and see a gynaecologist?

    Please help… Thanks

  2. Editor says:

    @Megan – I can imagine that it has been a very challenging time for both you and your husband. Unfortunately stress and the obsession of having a baby
    unfortunately just make matters worse. Once you except what you know so far (PCOS and low sperm count) it may help you to relax and let nature have its way. With acceptance comes peace and once you’ve made peace with the fact that this might take a while, your mind/body is allowed to work with you, not against you.

    As for the pain in your ovaries, I suggest that you go see your gynae to have it checked out. That doesn’t mean you have to stop your homeopathic treatment; carry on with the remedy and take it from there.

    Please read our Q&A on enhancing your chances to fall pregnant.

    All the best – keep us posted!

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