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A Couple’s Solution to Infertility

In as much as we all would wish that all partners who are ready to make babies should be perfectly able to do so, this is far from the truth. About 10% of all couples would have difficulty making babies after a year of consistent vaginal intercourse. That being said, I must add that you are not alone in this and I hope that the stress this may be causing you mentally and to your relationship will be placated by some advice on available medical interventions. Let’s begin.

What is Infertility?

Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex.

If you’re a woman over 35, it means you haven’t been able to get pregnant after 6 months of trying.

Women who are able to conceive but not carry a pregnancy to term may also be diagnosed with infertility.

A woman who’s never been able to get pregnant will be diagnosed with primary infertility. A woman who’s had at least one successful pregnancy in the past will be diagnosed with secondary infertility. Infertility isn’t just a woman’s problem.

What can cause infertility?

Infertility is not only a woman’s problem. It could actually be from the man. It can also be from both sides at the same time. A certain level maturity is needed when approaching the issue of infertility and some couples who fail to realise this may strain their relationship.

To get pregnant:

  • A woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries.
  • A man’s sperm must join with the egg along the way (fertilize).
  • The fertilized egg must go through a fallopian tube toward the uterus
  • The fertilized egg must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation).

Infertility may result from a problem with any or several of these steps.

Women need functioning ovaries, fallopian tubes, and a uterus to get pregnant. Conditions affecting any one of these organs can contribute to female infertility. She also requires her eggs to be viable as there a host of abnormalities that can affect them. Same applies to the men. He requires functioning testes that can release healthy sperms on ejaculation.

Risk factors that can cause a decline in male fertility

  • Advanced age, above 40 years.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Smoking.
  • Excessive alcohol use.
  • Use of marijuana.
  • Exposure to testosterone.
  • Exposure to radiation.
  • Frequent exposure of the testes to high temperatures, such as that which may occur in men confined to a wheelchair, or through frequent sauna or hot tub use.
  • Exposure to certain medications such as Flutamide, Cyproterone, Bicalutamide, Spironolactone, Ketoconazole, or Cimetidine.
  • Exposure to environmental toxins including exposure to pesticides, lead, cadmium, or mercury.

Risk factors that can cause a decline in female fertility

  • Advanced age, over 35 years.

Aging decreases a woman’s chances of having a baby in the following ways:

  1. She has a smaller number of eggs left.
  2.  Her eggs are not as healthy.
  3.  She is more likely to have health conditions that can cause fertility problems.
  4.  is more likely to have a miscarriage.
  • Smoking.
  • Excessive alcohol use.
  • Extreme weight gain or loss.
  • Excessive physical or emotional stress that results in amenorrhea (absent periods).

What are the available medical interventions for Infertility?

Most experts suggest at least one year for women younger than age 35. However, for women aged 35 years or older, couples should see a health care provider after 6 months of trying unsuccessfully. A woman’s chances of having a baby decrease rapidly every year after the age of 30.

Doctors will begin by collecting a medical and sexual history from both partners. The initial evaluation usually includes a semen analysis, a tubal evaluation, and ovarian reserve testing.

Infertility can be treated with:

  • Medicine,
  • Surgery,
  • Intrauterine Insemination,
  • Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

It includes all fertility treatments in which both eggs and embryos are handled outside of the body. In general, ART procedures involve removing mature eggs from a woman’s ovaries using a needle, combining the eggs with sperm in the laboratory, and returning the embryos to the woman’s body or donating them to another woman. The main type of ART is in vitro fertilization (IVF). Others include Sperm or egg donation,Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), Assisted hatching and Intrauterine insemination (IUI).

In vitro fertilization (IVF), meaning fertilization outside of the body, is the most effective and the most common form of ART.

Success rates vary and depend on many factors, including the clinic performing the procedure, the infertility diagnosis, and the age of the woman undergoing the procedure. This last factor—the woman’s age—is especially important.

  • 31% in women younger than 35 years of age.
  • 24% in women aged 35 to 37 years.
  • 16% in women aged 38 to 40 years.
  • 8% in women aged 41 to 42 years.
  • 3% in women aged 43 to 44 years.
  • 3% in women older than 44 years of age.

Success rates also vary from clinic to clinic and with different infertility diagnosis.

Outlook on infertility

For couples who experience fertility problems and those who wish to have children at an older age, there are more options available than ever before.

In 1978, the first baby was born as a result of IVF. By 2014, over 5 million people had been born after being conceived through IVF.

As new technology becomes available, fertility treatment is now accessible to more people, and success rates and safety are improving all the time.

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