According to the CDC, 15% of couples in America struggle to get pregnant. Infertility does not discriminate based on race, religion, sexuality or economic status. You never know how badly you want something until you are told that it may not be possible.
More and more I’m noticing couples around me having trouble conceiving and I’ve personally witnessed the emotional toll it takes on them. In honor of all of those who are having trouble getting pregnant I interviewed Dr. Margareta Pisarska, to help answer some common questions and debunk myths about infertility.
Q: After how long of trying to conceive should a couple seek an infertility specialist?
Dr. Pisarska: For those under 35, it’s 12 consecutive months — 6 if you’re over 35 — of actively trying, which means charting cycles and timing intercourse. Consult a doctor before trying if you or your partner have a condition that may impact fertility. For women, this includes PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), irregular or absent periods, endometriosis, previous reproductive surgeries and previous treatment for cancer; for men, urinary tract surgeries and varicocele (a vein abnormality in the scrotum), and previous treatment for cancer
Q: How can we help improve our fertility in our teen years and during our 20s?
Dr. Pisarska: Good nutrition is vital for a healthy body and reproductive system. Avoiding processed foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy body can help boost fertility and prepare your body for pregnancy.
How you choose to live during your early years can affect your fertility later. STD exposure, heavy alcohol use, cigarette smoking, marijuana can all contribute to poor egg and sperm quality.
Q: When is a good time for a woman to freeze her eggs?
Dr. Pisarska: There have been a couple of studies out there that look at cost-benefit analysis. Those studies say that by the time you’re 37, you should freeze eggs just to get—in terms of number and quality—the most bang for your buck. It’s also worth considering if you think you might want to have a few children—you might not use those eggs for the first or even the second pregnancy, but in the future, when you’re in your high thirties or low forties, having your own frozen eggs could help improve your chances of fertility but it is not a guarantee.
Q: Does egg freezing decrease future fertility?
Dr. Pisarska: No. Your follicles degenerate at the end of each month. With egg freezing, we’re just being more efficient and taking them all out versus a regular menstrual cycle, where just one egg is released from its follicle.
Q: Is it true male sperm count is at an all time low?
Yes there has been a decline in male sperm count in Western countries like the U.S. Drinking too much alcohol, smoking cigarettes, marijuana use, and too much caffeine affects sperm quality and quantity. In addition the research shows men who sit with laptops on their knees increase the temperature in their testicles by 2.8 degrees centigrade. Testicles are very sensitive to temperature causing lower sperm counts and more abnormal sperm.
I hope this helps clear up some confusion regarding egg freezing and infertility. If you have any infertility questions to ask Dr. Pisarska comment below.