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Are you struggling to fall pregnant? This could be your problem

By Faeza
29 July 2016

Andreas Wilson-Späth gives some advice on dealing with potential medical complications that lie between conception and giving birth

THE prospect of having a baby is among the most exciting things in any woman’s life. But for many, the thought of the potential medical complications that lie between conception and giving birth to a healthy child causes considerable stress.

FIBROIDS AND POLYPS

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumours that develop in the muscle tissue of the uterus. While some women may experience no symptoms, others will suffer from heavy or painful menstrual bleeding, lower back ache, frequent urination and pain during sexual intercourse. Depending on their size and location, fibroids can cause infertility, for example by distorting the inside of the uterus. Having diagnosed fibroids, your doctor may prescribe medication to shrink them or temporarily stop their growth, or they may recommend surgical removal by a so-called myomectomy. If a large fibroid blocks the opening of the uterus towards the end of a pregnancy, birth via Caesarean section may be required.

ENDOMETRIOSIS

When the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in areas outside of the uterus, this is referred to as endometriosis. It occurs in about six to 10 percent of all women and is known to be a common cause of infertility. Many sufferers don’t display any obvious symptoms, but some may complain of diarrhoea, bloating, strong pelvic pain, constipation and chronic fatigue. While there is no cure for the condition, treatment options are

available to help with the pain and to improve fertility.

JOURNEY INTO PARENTHOOD

When it’s their turn, everyone hopes for an effortless and smooth journey into parenthood. In reality, however, many prospective mothers face uncertainties about their fertility along with the possibility of experiencing diseases that may affect their own health during

pregnancy or that of their baby. If you are planning to have a child, it’s very important that you inform yourself about the various female reproductive issues you may be confronted with, learn to recognise the symptoms and understand what can be done about them.

In any normal pregnancy, it’s very likely that you’ll experience any or several of the following:

¦ Back pain;

¦ Fatigue and insomnia;

¦ Feeling nauseous, hot and faint;

¦ Vaginal cramps, bleeding and discharges;

¦ Constipation, excessive urination and incontinence;

¦ Varicose veins and haemorrhoids;

¦ Indigestion and heartburn; and

¦ Swollen fingers, feet and ankles.

None of these should be cause for alarm, but if you’re unsure about anything you should never hesitate to consult your doctor. Here are a number of conditions which may cause fertility problems:

OVARIAN CYSTS

These small, fluid-filled sacs commonly form around the ovaries. In most cases they are

harmless and benign. Abdominal pain, gradually spreading to the lower back and thighs, along with vomiting and queasiness are among the symptoms. On the few occasions on which a cyst turns out to be malignant, it does need to be removed without delay. There are some types of ovarian cysts which can be associated with decreased fertility. These are cysts caused by endometriosis and cysts that are the result of polycystic ovary syndrome.

Ovarian cysts can also develop during pregnancy and although they seldom cause complications, they should be carefully monitored. Most will naturally shrink in size and only in rare cases where they threaten to interfere with the pregnancy may they have to be removed surgically. There are several medical conditions which commonly afflict women

during pregnancy, including:

PRE-ECLAMPSIA

A complex condition that is indicated by a rise in blood pressure and an increase in protein in the urine (both of which are routinely checked during antenatal doctor’s appointments), pre-eclampsia is not usually a cause for alarm. If left untreated, however, it can develop

into eclampsia and lead to seizures that may threaten the life of both mother and baby.

ECTOPIC PREGNANCY

This happens when a fertilised egg accidentally implants outside of the uterus, most frequently in a Fallopian tube. Since there is no way of transplanting the egg into the uterus, the only option is to terminate the pregnancy as soon as possible. Signs that a woman may be having an ectopic pregnancy include lower abdominal, pelvic and shoulder pain, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and slight, irregular vaginal bleeding.

PLACENTA PREVIA

This describes a situation in which the placenta lies low in the uterus, next to or covering the cervix. Your doctor will monitor the position of the placenta through ultrasound

scans as your pregnancy progresses and only in the rare instances where it remains dangerously low towards the latter stages, may delivery by Caesarean section be necessary.

PELVIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASE

An infection caused by inflammation in the uterus, ovaries and Fallopian tubes, this is a common cause of infertility and pregnancy complications, particularly increasing the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

GESTATIONAL DIABETES

Between two and 10 percent of all expectant mothers contract this type of diabetes, which is normally detected by routine glucosescreening tests between 24 and 28 weeks. Ask your doctor to help you put together a healthy diet and an exercise plan to treat this condition.

PLACENTAL ABRUPTION

When the placenta prematurely separates from the uterine wall, this deprives the foetus of oxygen.

Signs of placental abruption include cramping, vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain. A few days of bed rest may stop the bleeding.