An Expert Look at Health for Couples Hoping to Conceive
October 27, 2023
Frequently Asked Questions on Fertility and Reproductive Health: An Expert Look at Health for Couples Hoping to Conceive
Kourtney Kardashian. Paris Hilton. Chrissy Teigen. All A-list women who’ve been open about their fertility and pregnancy journeys.
While their stories are shared on a larger platform, these experiences are not unique to celebrities. In fact, new data from the Pew Research Center shows 47% of women have used fertility treatments or personally know someone who has.
With birth rates dropping and the average age of first-time mothers increasing, women’s reproductive health is part of the conversation now more than ever. Even women who “do everything right” before deciding to start a family may discover conceiving a child doesn’t come as easily to them as they expected.
Although women who are exploring their reproductive health may have countless questions, here are a few of the most common:
Am I infertile?
The widely accepted definition of infertility is having one year of unprotected intercourse without conception. For women over age 35, the one-year guideline goes down to six months. While it can be frustrating to not conceive conventionally, there are plenty of options to provide hope to those struggling with infertility. In the Quad Cities, many women turn to University of Iowa Health Care reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Jessica Kresowik.
“A primary part of my practice is helping people achieve pregnancy,” Dr. Kresowik said. “My passion is trying to understand what a patient is coming in with to formulate a plan that’s going to help them. I’m enthusiastic and detail oriented and those qualities help me make sure nothing has been missed.”
For more than 10 years, Dr. Kresowik has worked for University of Iowa Health Care while practicing outpatient care at Mississippi Valley Surgery Center, located at 3400 Dexter Court in Davenport, Iowa. During this time, she has provided countless successful patient outcomes.
What causes infertility in women?
Problems with ovulation account for most cases of infertility in women. Without ovulation, there are no eggs to be fertilized. Some signs that a woman is not ovulating normally include irregular or absent menstrual periods.
When Dr. Kresowik begins working with a new patient, she’ll start by reviewing her medical and menstrual history to get a clearer picture of what’s happening. She may discover there is irregular bleeding, ovarian cysts or fibroids, but in about 15 to 20 percent of cases, infertility is unexplained.
“A large portion of patients have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Sometimes, PCOS can be worsened by being overweight or obese,” Dr. Kresowik said. “This is something that we can take action on to improve fertility.”
There are other lifestyle changes that can be made, like quitting cigarette smoking and limiting caffeine. Being aware of overall health includes mental health, too.
“There’s no doubt that when we’re suffering from infertility, we’re more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety,” Dr. Kresowik said. “Infertility can cause difficulties and tension for couples because it can be a stressful situation. It’s important to find outlets for our stress, and setting aside the time for self-care is critical.”
Another part of the process can be looking at the health of the woman’s partner, too. Men contribute to the cause of infertility in about one-third of couples.
What treatments are available to improve my chances of having a baby?
Finding the right treatment plan can take time, but with the dedicated and expert approach Dr. Kresowik provides, there is always hope, and more importantly, results.
“The most important thing I do is provide optimism and hope to people who are feeling hopeless and defeated,” Dr. Kresowik said. “We really do have a lot of options in our toolbox. We have new technology and many treatment options to lead to successful outcomes.”
Among those options include outpatient surgical procedures at MVSC to help with problems of the uterus including polyps, fibroids, scar tissue, congenital anomalies or to remove tissue from the uterus that may have been retained after a miscarriage. Dr. Kresowik also specializes in outpatient monitoring of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI).
“This field is rapidly evolving,” Dr. Kresowik said. “We can test for abnormalities in embryos much more easily and frequently. We’ve also seen the development of vitrification, which allows freezing of eggs. This is so useful for women who are going through a cancer treatment that is toxic to their ovaries, or even as an elective procedure for women who are delaying childbearing.”
Even in the last decade Dr. Kresowik has been practicing, she has seen technological advances that are opening doors and helping to create the futures her patients desire.
“At Mississippi Valley Surgery Center, we have the resources to create those success stories and a great community of OB providers we can refer to once they graduate from needing my care,” Dr. Kresowik said. “I feel privileged to care for patients in such a personal aspect of their life.”