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Are you having trouble getting pregnant? You're not alone. Female infertility affects an estimated 48 million women worldwide, with the highest prevalence in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa/Middle East, and Central/Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (or six months if a woman is 35 or older).
Infertility in women may be caused by many factors, including nutrition, diseases, and other malformations of the uterus. Experts say the odds of getting pregnant begin to decrease exponentially after turning 30 and more so when a woman crosses 35.
How would you know you have fertility issues? Many of the signs and symptoms related to infertility in women generally revolve around periods, but unfortunately most women tend to ignore them. If caught in time, these symptoms can be treated. So, watch out for these symptoms that may indicate possible infertility.
Having a history of irregular periods is one of the primary indicators that you may struggle with infertility. This is because irregular periods may be caused by other health issues that can affect fertility. A common cause of irregular periods is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which is a common cause of infertility. PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder in reproductive-age women. Therefore, it's important to keep track of your periods and identify the factors contributing to the irregularity.
Another major indicator of infertility is amenorrhea, which is a complete absence of periods. If you've had three or more missing periods, you are probably suffering from amenorrhea. It can be caused by a number of factors, including stress, low body weight, excessive exercise, taking certain medications, uterine scarring, and lacking certain reproductive organs. Missing periods may also indicate menopause. About 1% of women have menopause before the age 40.
Many women experience some degree of minor cramping while menstruating. But if it doesn't get better after taking some ibuprofen, it's better to consult a doctor. Painful periods are often caused by other health issues which may lead to infertility. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is frequently linked to STDs, is one of the causes. If left untreated, PID can cause scar tissue to form in and around the fallopian tubes, which can lead to infertility.
Your painful periods may also be a sign of endometriosis a condition in which uterine lining grows outside the uterus. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, endometriosis affects about 6% to 10% of women. The condition can lead to infertility in a number of ways, such as forming cysts in the ovaries and scarring of the fallopian tubes.
While the endometriosis can be removed through surgery, fertility may not be completely normal afterward. In such case, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is generally considered to be the most effective treatment.
Battling cancer and undergoing cancer treatments can also affect your fertility. Chemotherapy or pelvic radiation can cause rapid loss of eggs. Some women may experience earlier menopause after undergoing cancer treatments. Experts recommend speaking with a fertility specialist prior to cancer treatment for fertility preservation. Vitro maturation, ovarian transposition, and ovarian tissue cryopreservation are some of the fertility preservation options.
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