At a certain point in life, couples may look to grow their families. For some, starting a family happens relatively quickly, but for others, it takes more time.
If getting pregnant has been a challenge for you and your partner, you are not alone. One out of eight couples in the United States experiences infertility. Sometimes it is not just one issue that is preventing a couple from conceiving, but rather multiple smaller problems that all add up.
Mile Bluff's Women's Health Team
is made up of providers who specialize in gynecology and are trained to treat conditions that are unique to women. Mike Pech, MD, FACOG
, Katherine Leigh Hilsinger, MD
, and Maria Wolf, APNP
, seek to find the best solutions for their patients who are experiencing are variety of issues, including female infertility.If a couple is having a hard time conceiving or keeping a baby, what are the steps you take to help them?Maria Wolf, APNP:
Infertility is defined as not being able to conceive, or become pregnant, after one year of regular, unprotected sex if you are under age 30. Infertility may be due to a single cause in either partner, or a combination of factors that may prevent a pregnancy from occurring or continuing.
When a couple is struggling with infertility, the woman is often not having regular periods, or not releasing an egg each month. There are various things that can cause this disruption in ovulation or fertilization of the egg. Some of these can include medical conditions.
When I see patients at their first appointment to address infertility, I'll be looking for certain medical conditions like thyroid or pituitary gland issues. I'll assess the patients' ages and weights as all of these factors can play a role in fertility. I'll ask female patients if they have any history of gynecological problems like ovarian cysts or polocystic ovarian syndrome. It's also important to know if patients live an active life and whether or not they smoke. All of these things can play a role in a couple's ability to conceive.What are the next steps after that?Mike Pech, MD:
Establishing a health history of both the man and woman will give us a direction of where to start in dealing with infertility issues. After that, we'll begin by ordering lab tests and having the woman track her monthly cycle to determine whether she is ovulating or not. Another one of the first tests we'll suggest is a semen analysis. Half of all fertility issues are related to the male, so it is important to have the male partner tested as well. Depending on those results, we may run more tests on the woman so we can track down the specific cause(s) of the infertility.What treatment is available?Katherine Leigh Hilsinger, MD:
With infertility, we want to treat the underlying cause.
If the man is having fertility issues, we send him to an urologist who specializes in male fertility. If the woman is having issues, we need to assess if the problem is in the woman's ovaries and/or uterus. Sometimes there may be polyps or tumors that are causing problems with implantation once the egg is fertilized. Other times patients may have a tubal disease that does not allow the egg and sperm to meet.
We can determine if these anatomy issues are the cause by performing a laporoscopy, hysteroscopy, or ultrasound. These procedures allow us to determine what the best course of action is for treating the infertility.
If the woman has healthy anatomy or anatomy we can work to fix, then we can prescribe a medication that helps a woman ovulate. This medication can help the woman to become pregnant. However, there is a small chance that she may become pregnant with multiple babies when this type of medication is used.
Other options include undergoing intrauterine insemination where we can bypass the cervix and inject sperm right into the uterus, or we can perform in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
If you would like more information about the infertility treatment services available at Mile Bluff, or would like to make an appointment with our Women's Health Team, call 608-847-5000 today.