Reasons why you’re not getting pregnant
Keep getting negative results every time you pee on a stick? Here are fertility saboteurs that could be the reasons you’re not getting pregnant.
When you mention to friends and family that you’re “trying,” you’ll almost guaranteed to hear someone say, “Just relax and it will happen.” Easier said than done. Stress, good or bad, is going to take its toll on you both physically and mentally. According to naturopathic doctor Via Bitidis, co-director of the North Toronto Naturopathic Clinic, balance and calm are a crucial part of trying to conceive. “When you’re stressed your adrenal system takes a hit. Your body isn’t going to say, ‘Okay, let’s get pregnant.’ Learning to say no and to take time for yourself is important for improving your chances of having a baby.” Megan Karnis, medical director of The ONE Fertility Clinic in Burlington, Ont., agrees with a word of caution: “A lot of women think the best thing to do when you’re stressed is to take time off work. In my experience, that doesn’t help, because it makes a woman feel she has to get pregnant in that time and then the stress to get pregnant is so much higher,” she says. Instead of altering your day-to-day routine entirely, Karnis recommends counselling, art therapy, meditation and exercise to reduce stress levels.
You already know that catching an adequate number of zzz’s makes that morning department meeting more bearable, but here’s another reason to get yourself to bed before the wee hours. Sleep deprivation puts stress on the body (there’s that pesky s-word again) and when you’re tired, you don’t run on all cylinders. “For people who don’t get enough sleep, their immune systems are down a little bit and they’re more likely to get infections, which will affect the reproductive cycle,” Karnis says. “This applies to men as well. Infections can cause fever and that excess heat can damage the sperm temporarily,” she says. “Women who don’t get enough sleep can also start to feel anxious, which may cause missed periods.” Keeping yourself healthy is the baby bottom line, so set the PVR to record Mad Men and enforce a new bedtime.
A woman who is underweight or overweight may have some difficulty conceiving a baby. “An undernourished body may not ovulate properly,” says Bitidis. On the other hand, excess weight can have a significant effect on fertility. “Just being over your ideal weight decreases your chance of getting pregnant even if you are ovulating regularly,” says Karnis. “The further you stray above 25 on the Body Mass Index, the worse it gets.” Maintaining a healthy diet and developing a reasonable exercise routine will do wonders for your mind and body,” Bitidis adds.
“A lot of women don’t understand their own cycles,” says Bitidis. Most of us were taught the typical 28-day cycle in health class back in high school, but every woman is different and cycles vary in length. “The biggest thing is timing,” Karnis says. “We teach women that ovulation is two weeks before your period. Most people think that it’s two weeks after, but that’s only if you have a four-week cycle,” she says. You’ll have better luck conceiving if you monitor ovulation and start having sex at the right time. “We also teach people about sperm life—they can live for three days in the cervix, so you don’t have to have sex on the day of ovulation, it could be the day before. We also find that a lot of people don’t know that lubricant decreases sperm motility and transfer, so you shouldn’t use lubricant when you’re trying to get pregnant,”
“Keeping a positive attitude is incredibly important. There is a huge mind-body connection. Try not to listen to the negative stories and try to be patient,” Bitidis advises. Preparing for pregnancy up to a year in advance may be a good idea if you’re planning to start a family in the near future, that way you can focus on making lifestyle changes. If you’re trying now, remember that it can take time—experts say up to a year— to conceive. If you’re concerned that it has taken too long, speak to your healthcare provider about your options for fertility counselling and treatment.
Age-Related Infertility Is Causing a Problem
For women after age 35, and for men after age 40, it can take longer to get pregnant.
Some women assume if they still get regular periods their fertility is fine, but this isn’t true. Age impacts egg quality as well as quantity.
Also, if your partner is five or more years older than you are, this can further increase your risk of fertility problems after age 35.
Your Fallopian Tubes Are Blocked
Irregular ovulation accounts for 25 to 30 percent of female infertility cases. The rest can have problems with blocked fallopian tubes, uterine structural problems, or endometriosis.
In case you don’t know, the fallopian tubes are the pathway between your ovaries and the uterus. The fallopian tubes do not directly attach to the ovaries. Sperm must swim up from the cervix, through the uterus, and into the fallopian tubes. When an egg is released from the ovaries, hair-like projections from the fallopian tube draw the egg inside. Conception takes place inside the fallopian tube, where the sperm and egg finally meet. If anything prevents the fallopian tubes from working properly, or if scarring blocks the sperm or egg from meeting, you won’t be able to get pregnant.
There are many possible causes of blocked fallopian tubes. While some women with blocked tubes experience pelvic pain, many others have no symptoms. Only fertility testing can determine if your tubes are open. An HSG is a specialized X-ray used to determine if your fallopian tubes are open. This can be ordered by your OB/GYN.