Why can’t I get pregnant?

You may be asking yourself that question if you are attempting to get pregnant or if you know someone else who is in the same situation.  If you have only been having sexual relations without contraception for less than one year, do not despair: your situation is entirely normal.  Consider that in every menstrual cycle, the chance of successfully starting a pregnancy is only 25% (a percentage that is surely much lower than what you were thinking).  However, this percentage varies with the age of the woman.  If you have been trying to get pregnant for more than one year, we advise that you consult your family doctor.

Successful human reproduction is a complicated process that depends on coordinated action between hormones, the nervous system, and the reproductive system.  Generally, the necessary building blocks are healthy gametes (ova and sperm) and an embryo of high quality.  Of course, an optimal uterine environment is also imperative for the implantation of the embryo.  If we don’t have all of those elements working in synchrony, then we can have problems with fertility.

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What is infertility?

According to the World Health Organization, infertility is a “chronic infirmity of the reproductive system that is characterized by the inability to achieve a successful pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular sexual relations without contraception.”  If you find yourself in this situation, you might think, “Why me?”, but the reality is that you are not alone.  In fact, 15 out of every 100 couples in Spain are affected by infertility.

The causes of this problem are varied and can affect people of both sexes.  Among the most frequent causes are endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and low sperm quality.  Even though these natural causes are common, we should take into account that the increase in cases of infertility that we are experiencing nowadays could be due to a postponement of the age at which we decide to become parents.  Women are most fertile between the ages of 20 and 30; from 30 onward, fertility begins to decrease.

Currently, the average age at which Spaniards have their first pregnancy is 31.5 years old, five years older than in 1975 and four years older than the international average of 27.7, according to data from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics in 2017.  Even so, our perception of success has not changed, so we tend to overestimate our reproductive capacity without considering how our aging affects the quality of our ova.

Why are we waiting to become parents?  We are waiting until we find work and stable partners, and we want to first achieve a sufficient economic level before bringing new life into the world.  Plus, once we have children, we need to balance the demands of work and parenthood.  Taking into account all of the aforementioned factors, is the solution to have children before the age of 30? We could say that no, the most important thing is that we receive truthful information about our reproductive capacity so that we can make the appropriate decisions at the time that we initiate our reproductive project.

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