Infertility can be emotionally and physically draining for a couple, and indeed their family and friends. If you and your partner are failing to conceive, you may feel you are the only couple in this predicament but around one in seven couples have difficulty conceiving, which amounts to approximately 3.5 million people in the UK.
A couple will only be diagnosed as infertile if the woman has not fallen pregnant after one year of trying, and there are two types of infertility: primary infertility, where a woman who has never conceived fails to become pregnant, and secondary infertility where a woman who has already been pregnant fails to fall pregnant again. Women aged 36 and over, or who are aware of existing fertility problems, should see their GP, who can suggest treatments that may help.
There are a number of treatments available, including medical treatments for lack of regular ovulation, surgical procedures and assisted conception such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or intro-vitro fertilisation (IVF). There’s also the option of adoption or surrogacy.
There’s a stigma attached to infertility—couples often speak about feelings of failure when they can’t conceive. A number of celebrities have spoken candidly about infertility, which can be a reassuring for those who may be suffering in silence.
See also: Your Fertility
Angelia Jolie & Brad Pitt
The couple have six children, three of whom were adopted internationally. Angelina Jolie adopted two children before her relationship (and later marriage) to Brad Pitt, but he has since officially adopted the two children and their surnames were changed to Jolie-Pitt. Soon after, the couple announced they were expecting their first biological child together. A year later, they decided to adopt again for the third time, and Angelina then announced another natural pregnancy and gave birth to twins in 2008.
Chrissy Teigan & John Legend
Supermodel Chrissy Teigen recently told People magazine that she was undergoing IVF treatments during a swimsuit photo shoot for Sports Illustrated: ‘I had a little medical kit. It was hard because you bloat from it, and you bruise—if I hit the wrong area, we had to cover it with makeup.’ The 30-year old has spoken about her lengthy struggle to conceive on her FABlife talk show, saying that she and her husband, award-winning singer John Legend, would have had children years ago. The IVF treatment was successful for the couple, and they are expecting a baby girl in April 2016.
See also: Face Up to Infertility
Sarah Jessica Parker & Matthew Broderick
After conceiving their first son, James, naturally, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick were unable to get pregnant with a second child. The 50 year-old actress told US Vogue, ‘we tried and tried and tried to get pregnant. It was just not to be. I would give birth … if I could.’ They chose to use a surrogate mother, and welcomed twin girls in June 2009.
Causes of infertility
There are a number of potential causes of infertility, and they can affect either the man or the woman. Sometimes, it is not possible to identify the cause. Common causes in women include lack of regular ovulation (which can occur as a result of certain conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis). For men, the most common cause is poor quality of semen; decreased sperm count, decreased sperm mobility or abnormal sperm are all contributing factors to male infertility.
In some cases, infertility can’t be prevented. However, there are measures we can take that may help to prevent certain cases.
Weight: Women who are underweight or overweight ovulate less regularly, or in some cases not at all, compared to women of a healthy weight. If a healthy weight is maintained, it will make it easier to conceive.
Stress: Stress can impact fertility, as generally, stressed couples have sex less frequently. Unfortunately, this stress might be due to struggling to conceive, which ironically can make it harder. Talk to your partner, or consider counseling. Regular exercise can also help.
Diet: Eat a nutritious, balanced diet of at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Include wholemeal bread and pasta, lean meat, fish and pulses. Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and pak choi can help prevent birth defects and cut out alcohol and cigarettes.
See also: The Fertility Facts