By Paula Franken
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for some time without success, it might be time to see a fertility specialist.
Both men and women can have fertility issues, but for women, the risk increases with age, starting in their mid-30s. “If you’re a woman under 35 and you’ve been trying to get pregnant for under a year, there’s probably nothing to worry about,” explains Geisinger reproductive endocrinology and fertility specialist Jennifer Gell, MD. “But if it’s been over a year, you might want to consider fertility treatment. After age 35, try for six months first. And after age 39, give it just three months.”
“Sometimes the problem is hormonal,” explains Dr. Gell. “In that case, medications can help stimulate a woman’s egg release. Those medications can be taken orally or injected.”
Blockages or other abnormalities can happen in either partner’s anatomy. Simple surgery is often all it takes to correct these issues.
Intra-uterine insemination (IUI), also known as artificial insemination, makes sure everything gets where it needs to go when it needs to go there by placing sperm in a woman’s uterus right as she’s ovulating.
If other fertility treatments haven’t worked, it might be time to try in vitro fertilization (IVF). “The IVF cycle begins with medications that stimulate your ovaries to produce mature eggs,” Dr. Gell explains. “The eggs will be retrieved and placed in a special dish with sperm. Together, they create embryos that can be genetically tested for correct chromosome number. A single embryo is then placed in the uterus. Extra embryos can be preserved for future use — that way you don’t have to go through the cycle more than once.”
Waiting until later in life to start a family is a common trend these days — and luckily, there are plenty of ways to help make that happen. “I love my job,” says Dr. Gell. “There’s nothing like taking my patients on this journey toward their family. It’s a truly amazing experience — for all of us.”
This story originally appeared in PA Health, our quarterly full-color magazine filled with wellness tips, inspiring stories and more.
Sign up to have PA Health sent to your mailbox or inbox 4 times a year, for free.