Infertility is a personal crisis, typically between a committed couple who are trying to conceive without success. They follow the course and have all the tests and get to the bottom of their inability to conceive. The specialist then comes up with the treatment best suited for the patient and their partner.
The Common Connection of Infertility
With infertility seemingly on the rise it’s a fairly easy task to find two or more women in the same workplace, friend or social group who experience similar difficulties in becoming pregnant. Women from the same family, especially if they are sisters, may begin to wonder if there is, in fact, a genetic connection.
The short answer? Not necessarily. The causes of infertility vary and there are many different conditions which may contribute to your inability to conceive. Men are just as frequently plagued with infertility as women. Very often the cause comes back as unknown in origin.
All that being said, there are some occasions when there is a genetic link between you and a close female relative, such as your sister. There are certain medical conditions which may undermine your fertility and doctors recognize these conditions run in families. Here are the most common conditions that tend to run in families and up your risk of infertility.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a condition that causes an imbalance in reproductive hormones, a sluggish metabolism and affects your overall health in many ways, including compromising your fertility. PCOS is fairly common and affects 1 out of every 10 women of childbearing age. Doctors have found if a relative such as mother, sister, grandmother or aunt struggled with PCOS you have a greater risk of developing the condition yourself. Doctors are still working to identify the gene that predisposes women to PCOS.
- Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a condition which causes cells that mimic the uterine lining (endometrium) to grow outside of the uterus. The tissue responds to the hormonal signals that cause menstruation and sheds but has nowhere to go but onto other organs. This condition causes severe menstrual cramps, heavy bleeding, fatigue and painful intercourse. Endometriosis tissue impairs fertility when it attaches to other organs in the pelvic region such as your ovaries and fallopian tubes. Endometriosis affects around 15% of women and tends to run in families, especially between mothers and daughters. If your mother, sister or grandmother has endometriosis you are at a higher risk for the condition.
- Uterine fibroids: The data is still unclear about the genetic connection that predisposes women to uterine fibroids. However, some studies show there is a three times greater risk for developing uterine fibroids if your mother, grandmother or sister have them. The degree to which they complicate your fertility depends on how numerous they are and whether they are submucosal.
- Ovarian Reserve: On average women are born with roughly two million eggs. You begin to lose eggs right away, about 120,000 each year prior to puberty and about 11,000 a year after you begin menstruating. Your genes determine the number of eggs you have at birth. If your sister has a diminished ovarian reserve, you may have a low supply of eggs yourself.
- Early Menopause: This is also connected to having a low ovarian reserve. If your sister or mother experienced early menopause then you are at risk for the same.
Get Treatment and Peace of Mind
Of course, there is treatment available for each of these conditions. If you aren’t yet ready to become pregnant and your sister is going through infertility you should consider discussing your options with a fertility specialist. You have the option to freeze your eggs until you are ready.
For those who are trying to conceive without results for 12 months (6 months over 35 years of age), and whose family member received a diagnosis of infertility, definitely schedule an appointment with your fertility specialist. At LA IVF, we understand all of the latest in advanced reproductive technology. We understand your desire to have a baby and approach your fertility complications with compassion and a goal to grow your family. Contact LA IVF today for more on how you-and your sister-can realize your dream of having a family.