Infertility isn't a dirty word. It's a reality, and one that affects women everywhere. It could be your best friend, your cousin, your boss ... or it could be all of them.
In the United States, 7.3 million women suffer from an impaired ability to have children, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. Another 2.1 million married women are considered infertile, which is defined as being unable to get pregnant for one year. The staggering statistics show that this is widespread issue — and one that isn't discussed nearly enough.
But E! host Giuliana Rancic and husband Bill, who won Donald Trump's Apprentice, are speaking out about their private struggles with infertility, showing that infertility can impact anyone — money or no money, fame or no fame.
Giuliana and Bill Rancic went through a year of struggling with infertility before they decided to be open and honest about their efforts to have a baby on their reality show, Giuliana and Bill. In a recent interview on The View, they talked about how age and weight issues have contributed to their fertility issues.
The main issue, the couple says, is Giuliana's age — over 35. "I thought I was still so young. We did IUI (intrauterine insemination) and that didn't work. We did more tests, and the doctors said: 'You're 35 and your eggs are old.' And I'm like, what? I was so shocked, and I said to myself: Had I known it was going to be so hard to get pregnant maybe I would have frozen my eggs at like 30 or 28," says Giuliana.
But Giuliana's weight is also an issue. She's considered underweight, and has been told to gain five to 10 pounds by doctors. She admits that's been a tough thing for her — but she has gained about five pounds.
Why share such an intensely personal story? She's hoping her story will reach younger, career-driven women like her, who may not know that waiting to have kids can affect your ability to conceive.
What you should know
There are many reasons that a woman may experience difficulty getting pregnant. Fertility begins to decline when women are in their 30s, according to WebMD. Reasons include a decline in eggs, reduced health of eggs and hormonal changes. Men can also experience fertility issues such as low sperm counts.
Beyond age, the CDC says that smoking, excess drinking, stress, diet, weight extremes (overweight or underweight) and sexually transmitted infections can also affect fertility, as can some health issues.
Want to know more? Check out Pregnancy and Baby's page on Infertility. >>
What to do
If you are having trouble getting pregnant, start by talking to your doctor. They can help determine if there is a problem, and how to address it.
Furthermore, if you are under- or overweight, it's important to get to a healthy weight when trying to conceive. Experts say that for fertility, it's ideal to have a BMI between 20 and 24.
Also, if you are planning to wait until you are older to have children, you should take precautionary measures, such as freezing eggs, to ensure that you have a better chance of conceiving when you want to. "I would say go to the doctor and get a blood test called FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). Test your FSH level and you can see if you're going to have a hard time getting pregnant or not. If you monitor it every year and you see it changing, then at least you don't feel like you got blindsided," says Giuliana.
Connect with other moms trying to conceive and dealing with infertility on our SheKnows message boards.
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