When Should You See a Fertility Specialist?
For women, who are having trouble conceiving, you would need to understand that recent studies suggest that about one out of every five to six women have problems conceiving.
Infertility is defined as the inability to be able to conceive even after the couple has tried for a year or longer, to have unprotected intercourse. While fertility tests would confirm that some cases of infertility are caused by problems due to ovulation, there are several other causes of infertility as well. It is also important to realize that infertility is a medical condition that is time-sensitive hence, couples should not postpone or put their fertility journey on hold waiting for the right time to come. When a couple comes across infertility symptoms it is high time to consult a fertility specialist and the right time to act towards finding a solution to infertility.
• For How Long Have You Been Trying to Get Pregnant?
For those who have been trying to get pregnant for more than a year without any positive results, it is highly imperative to seek medical assistance to achieve positive pregnancy results. The fertile window is shorter for couples above 35, so to conceive successfully after couples have reached 35 years and above, they should seek expert advice if they have not achieved pregnancy even after trying for 6 months and above.
Factors to Be Considered When Planning to start a Family
Is your age above or below 35?
• Medical History
Do you have a family history of chronic illnesses or onset of premature menopause?
• Reproductive Issues
Are you a woman suffering from medical conditions such as PCOS, issues with fallopian tubes such as blockage of the fallopian tubes, uterine-related problems, and other medical conditions such as endometriosis, and thyroid disorders? In the case of men, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and sperm disorders are reproductive issues that need attention.
• Reproductive Issues in women in detail
Common medical conditions that can generally lead to infertility issues include:
• Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
This is a hormonal disorder and is among the leading factors contributing to female infertility. PCOS impacts the woman’s ability to ovulate regularly, and if a woman does not ovulate regularly, it is considered to be challenging to conceive. PCOS is typically treated with oral medications or injectables to induce ovulation.
This condition occurs when the endometrial tissue that lines the uterus grows outside the uterus, in areas such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic spaces. However, the treatment for Endometriosis varies from one woman to another depending on the issue. Under certain conditions, surgery could also be a solution.
• Uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids are defined as benign tumors that grow in the muscle of the uterus. Fibroids are a common finding among most reproductive-aged women. There are chances that they may interfere with the woman's ability to get pregnant or at times also lead to miscarriages. However, many women with fibroids have conceived and gone through pregnancy without difficulty. The treatment options for women with fibroids and who wish to become pregnant vary.
• Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)
When a woman is below the age of 40 and when her ovaries stop functioning normally, she is diagnosed with POI. There is about a 5% chance that a woman diagnosed with POI conceives. Taking into consideration the low likelihood of natural conception, the procedure of egg donation with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is regarded as one of the most effective treatments for women with POI.
If you have suffered an injury or undergone surgery in the past or of late on your reproductive organs or reproductive system.
Have you been diagnosed with cancer, or have either currently or in the past undergone any cancer treatment? Undergoing cancer treatment can impact a woman’s ability to get pregnant. The cancer treatment however depends on the woman’s age, type of treatment, and dosage of medications. If you have been recently diagnosed with cancer, proactive measures could be taken to preserve fertility. If you have already undergone treatment, a fertility specialist would provide an evaluation that helps determine whether fertility was impacted.
Are you a regular smoker or do you often drink?
• If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is either high or low
Your body weight has a direct effect on your body’s reproductive function and can lead to the hormonal balance of your body. Women detected to have a BMI under 18 or over 30 have higher chances of developing infertility issues and complications during pregnancy. For either a low BMI or a high BMI, you should discuss with your family practitioner how you could control your BMI and keep it stable before you proceed with getting pregnant. Check on your body weight, if you are overweight or underweight. If you continue to ovulate regularly, having regular menstrual cycles, this is however not of much concern.
If you have a thyroid problem Research suggests that every one in eight women has a chance of developing a thyroid issue during her lifetime. Also, up to 60 percent of women with thyroid issues are not diagnosed and hence are unaware of their medical condition. Hypothyroidism is one of the most common thyroid conditions resulting in an under-active thyroid. Hyperthyroidism results in over-active thyroid levels. Either low levels or high levels of thyroid hormone can result in irregular menstrual cycles thus impacting ovulation.
On diagnosis with a thyroid issue, it is important to monitor your thyroid hormone levels through certain tests before planning on getting pregnant. A good fertility specialist will certainly help and increase your chances of getting pregnant. They will work with you to monitor and control your thyroid hormone level to ensure and promote a healthy pregnancy thus reducing the risk of miscarriage.
It is recommended to consult a fertility specialist at the earliest if you are planning to conceive soon. Thyroidism can affect a normal healthy pregnancy, and also increase the risks of miscarriage, and lead to abnormal fetal brain development. For those who are already on thyroid medications, a physician’s consultation will help to further avoid any problems.
• For a woman who has experienced Multiple Miscarriages
It has been noted that about 15% to 20% of all pregnancies have resulted in miscarriage. Pregnancy losses are difficult to experience, and if you experienced two or more miscarriages, it is best to seek evaluation to determine if there is an underlying identifiable cause. The reasons for pregnancy miscarriages could be genetic issues, altered hormone levels, anatomic problems, cervical issues, infections, or other underlying causes that could be addressed and treated with medical care.
• Why you should not delay or postpone Infertility Treatment?
You should not delay or postpone Infertility Treatment because of the following factors
The woman’s ovarian reserve declines with each menstrual cycle.
Advanced age is linked to an increase in the risk of miscarriages.
Fertility screening tests stretch could prolong for days and could lead to additional tests to be performed to ascertain the reason for pregnancy.
Certain lifestyle changes as recommended by the doctor would be essential to start fertility treatment.
At times in some cases, the fertility treatment may require multiple attempts to succeed or lead to a delay in the process.
• Is Infertility Curable?
Infertility though not curable in certain cases can be reversed. The treatment options available are
• Ovulation induction (OI)
It is the regulation or restoration of ovulation using certain medications as prescribed by the fertility specialist.
• Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
This is a minimally invasive procedure that involves the direct placement of the washed sperm into the woman’s uterus to increase her chances of fertilization.
• Self-cycle In Vitro Fertilization
This procedure involves the retrieval of the woman’s mature eggs from her ovaries which are combined in a laboratory with the husband’s healthy sperm to initiate fertilization. The fertilized egg or eggs are then transferred back into the uterus for implantation. One full cycle of In Vitro Fertilization could take about three weeks or slightly longer.
• Self-cycle Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
In this ICSI procedure, the embryologist injects a single, healthy sperm directly into a woman’s egg using a fine glass needle or a specialized micropipette to increase the chance of fertilization. This thus eliminates the chances of poor sperm or egg quality. The ICSI procedure is a part of the IVF procedure that takes place in the lab. The IVF treatment procedure will not seem much different than an IVF treatment without ICSI.
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