Infertility treatment depends on the cause, your age, how long you’ve been infertile and personal preferences. Because infertility is a complex disorder, treatment involves significant financial, physical, psychological and time commitments. Your doctor will ask you about any meds you’re on, any surgeries you’ve had and any medical conditions you have. It’s a lot to remember, so maybe make some notes beforehand to take along to your appointment.
Treatments can either attempt to restore fertility through medication or surgery, or help you get pregnant with sophisticated techniques. Here’s what you need to know…
Why does infertility happen?
Infertility can happen when a couple fails to conceive through having regular unprotected sex. It may be that one partner cannot contribute to conception, or that a woman is unable to carry a pregnancy to full term. It is often defined as not conceiving after 12 months of regular sexual intercourse without the use of any birth control.
According to Medical News Today, “In the United States, around ten percent of women aged 15 to 44 years are estimated to have difficulty conceiving or staying pregnant. Worldwide, eight to 12 percent of couples experience fertility problems. Between 40 and 50 percent of cases are thought to stem from factors that affect the man.”
What are the causes?
In men, the causes can be down to the man’s sperm. A low sperm count, low sperm mobility and abnormal sperm shape. Abnormal semen can also be a cause. Maybe the man has a medical condition, like a testicular infection. Or the testes could be overheated. Ejaculation problems and genetics can also be a factor, as well as hormonal imbalances. Some medications can also increase the risk of fertility issues.
In women, age is the biggest factor in the ability to conceive. Your chances of conceiving naturally fall dramatically after age 32. Smoking also significantly increases the risk of infertility in both men and women. It’s also worth noting that smoking will also undermine the effects of any fertility treatment you have. Diet and exercise also play their part. Too much / too little can be a factor in fertility issues. Being overweight can hinder conception, and mental wellbeing plays a big part in being able to conceive. Mental stress can affect female ovulation. As well as all this, there’s medical conditions to consider too. Ovulation disorders, poor egg quality, thyroid problems and Polycystic Ovary syndrome can also make getting pregnant hard.
What are the treatments?
Infertility treatments will depend on many factors, including the age of the person who wishes to conceive, how long the infertility has lasted, personal preferences, and general state of health. Because infertility is a complex disorder, treatment involves significant financial, physical, psychological and time commitments.
Although some women need just one or two therapies to restore fertility, it’s possible that several different types of treatment may be needed. Treatments can either attempt to restore fertility through medication or surgery, or help you get pregnant with sophisticated techniques.
Fertility drugs may be prescribed for you. These can help regulate or induce ovulation. You may be advised to have intercourse more around the time of ovulation. If fallopian tubes are blocked, surgery may be advised. Or assisted conception might be the path for you. This includes In-vitro fertilization (IVF) which is when sperm are placed with unfertilized eggs in a petri dish, so fertilization can take place. The embryo is then placed in the uterus to begin a pregnancy. Sometimes the embryo is frozen for future use.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is another method. A single sperm is injected into an egg to achieve fertilization during an IVF procedure. The likelihood of fertilization improves significantly for men with low sperm concentrations. Or you might be advised to try Sperm or egg donation where sperm or eggs can be received from a donor. Fertility treatment with donor eggs is usually done using IVF.
When should I visit my doctor if I suspect infertility?
Most people will visit a physician if there is no pregnancy after 12 months of trying. If the woman is aged over 35 years, the couple may wish to see a doctor earlier, because fertility testing can take time, and female fertility starts to drop when a woman is 32.
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