June is World Infertility Awareness Month, highlighting infertility issues faced by people around the world each year. There is a misconception that infertility affects only a small part of the population, but as many as 48.5 million couples experience some form of infertility. UT Health San Antonio provides complete infertility treatment and care.
What is infertility?
“Traditionally, infertility is determined when a couple has been trying to conceive without contraception for a year without a pregnancy. For women older than 35, that time period is shortened to 6 months,” said Belinda Yauger, MD, director for the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at UT Health San Antonio.
For women under the age of 35, there are some circumstances when they should seek fertility evaluation sooner including irregular menstrual cycles, a history of endometriosis, or male factors, like testicular issues. For women over the age of 40 who are trying to conceive, it is recommended to seek a referral as soon as possible to establish care and make sure there are no factors that could cause issues conceiving.
What causes infertility?
“In females, one of the most common issues we see is anovulation, when a woman is not ovulating regularly, due to various factors including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Usually, anovulation presents with irregular or absent menstrual cycles,” Dr. Yauger said.
Tubal factors, which are blockages, or obstructions in the fallopian tubes, also play a part in infertility. Blockages can be caused by endometriosis, pelvic infection, or a previous pelvis surgery.
Additionally, diminished ovarian reserve, a lower quantity of eggs due to age or other factors which may have caused damage to the ovary and the resting eggs, contributes to a decreased likelihood of becoming pregnant and carrying a baby to term. This is often present in older couples who are trying to conceive and having difficulty.
“For males, sperm disorders are the most common issue for infertility,” said Dr. Yauger. “Low sperm count and low movement of the sperm, called sperm motility, are factors that contribute to sperm disorders. There are several different reasons a male may have sperm issues. Sometimes there can be a problem with the vas deferens, which is where the sperm transport occurs. This could be the result of a past vasectomy, or they could have been born lacking the vas deferens if they are a carrier for or have cystic fibrosis.”
Other contributors, like the use of testosterone supplementation, can impede sperm production. This can impair the natural production of testosterone that is needed for sperm creation. After taking testosterone, it can be a prolonged time before the sperm recovers, up to six months to a year.
When should I see a fertility specialist?
Dr. Yauger recommends that women 35 and younger see a specialist after 12 months of trying to conceive unsuccessfully. For women older than 35, she suggests seeing a physician after six months of trying to conceive and for women over 40 to seek a referral as soon as they decide to try to conceive.
“If there are other significant factors that you think could be contributing to infertility, like irregular menstrual cycles, difficulty with intercourse, or erectile dysfunction, ask your physician,” she said. “Don’t wait too long to seek care- if you’re interested in having children, bring it up to your physician and seek care early.”
What treatments are available at UT Health San Antonio?
Our Reproductive Health and Fertility Center offers a variety of services to diagnose and treat infertility. Our specialists can perform fertility evaluations, fertility preservation, treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), perform preimplantation genetic testing, and more.
While common treatments include providing Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), we also offer medication or surgery to correct infertility issues. Additionally, hormonal issues can be corrected without needing invasive intervention.
For couples seeking IVF treatment, we offer a $6,250 basic package. Learn more about our IVF package.
Our Reproductive Health and Fertility Center specialists are also faculty at UT Health San Antonio Long School of Medicine. This allows us to remain one of the most cost-efficient fertility practices in the area. Our staff is happy to answer questions about referrals, itemized diagnostic and treatment costs and billing options. We also participate in a variety of insurance plans.
To learn more about the Reproductive Health and Fertility Center and the services offered visit UTHealthcare.org.
Dr. Belinda Yauger joined the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UT Health San Antonio in July of 2021 as Chief for the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Zoology from the University of Florida and her Medical Doctorate at Washington University School of Medicine. She completed Obstetrics and Gynecology residency training at the National Capital Consortium in Bethesda, MD, in 2005, followed by a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the National Institutes of Health in 2009.
She is dual board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.