Infertility Advice – infertility issues explained
It’s not all bad news. Out of a 100 couples trying to conceive naturally in the UK:
- 20 will conceive within one month
- 70 will conceive within six months
- 85 will conceive within one year
- 90 will conceive within 18 months
- 95 will conceive within two years
You may be surprised how many people need it! Some women get pregnant very quickly. But for others it can take longer and women over the age of 35, and anyone who is already aware that they may have fertility problems, should probably seek advice sooner. In the UK the official line is somewhat political. That is, a women or couple will only be diagnosed as being infertile if they have not managed to have a baby after two years of trying. That’s a long time!
That said it’s perfectly natural for couples to assume they will get pregnant soon after they start trying. Generally because they have spent many years and so much effort avoiding pregnancy in the first place! Often though it doesn’t work out that way. For many of reasons and that’s why fertility clinics have a clear, simple process to investigate where problems may be occurring that are preventing you from getting pregnant. (See Our Flow Diagram Below).
Generally speaking, around 1 in 7 couples can have some difficulty with fertility. There are various causes, some easier to treat than others. This section of our website gives some basic information on the causes of infertility. Plus some general advice for couples trying to conceive. There are two types of infertility:
- primary infertility, where someone who has never conceived a child in the past has difficulty conceiving
- secondary infertility, where a person has had one or more babies in the past, but is having difficulty conceiving again
For the rest InterTrust Fertility is here to help
Infertility: For a start, it’s more common than you think. Probably because we don’t usually bring it up in a chat at the pub (maybe we should!) a lot of couples going through fertility problems feel they’re on their own. In fact, 20 per cent of people have problems conceiving, for reasons that may or may not be easily explained.
Not understanding why you haven’t conceived is the most frustrating bit. Especially when your doctor just shrugs his shoulders at you. Bad news can feel like a massive setback (and a passion killer), and we know that many couples walk away feeling hopeless. It shouldn’t be this way. Here, we’ll go through all the need-to-know facts about infertility and focus on the solutions.
The main causes of infertility
We’ve written two separate articles that go into the nitty gritty of male infertility and female infertility. Check them out if you’re struggling to understand what the leading possibilities are for you.
Once you as a couple have figured out what’s wrong, it can be hard to come to terms with. Suddenly, something you always assumed would be easy feels like nothing but pain. You might benefit from chatting to a fertility counsellor to calm you down and discuss things rationally.
Perhaps the worst thing to be told is that your doctor can’t find the reason for your apparent infertility. This is what happens for a third of couples. While it does mean you still have a chance of conceiving naturally, it may be that the only thing to do is carry on having more sex than ever for another few years and seeing if anything happens.
Not so bad. But other couples who feel time is of the essence go straight to IVF. Potentially before its to late. This can be an investigative process in itself, as the eggs and sperm are looked at in more detail and may reveal the reason for the so far unexplained infertility.
What to expect from your initial consultation
Many couples are surprised that things happen so quickly, often from their very first consultation.
You’ll both be asked about your medical history and to discuss anything you think could be contributing to your infertility, such as long-term medication, diabetes, thyroid problems, epilepsy or pelvic infections. The man will get the chance to nip off to a quiet room with some ‘material’, to produce a semen sample. No such treat for the woman, I’m afraid. Both of you will also be screened for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
After your doctor has gone through all the results, you’ll be back to talk through a plan of action. They’ll have come up with recommendations for which fertility drugs are right for you and which kind of treatment you should try.
If you end up starting an IVF cycle, it’s well worth knowing that a few cheeky pints isn’t the best way to start. The latest research suggests that women are best off avoiding booze the week before and during an IVF cycle. Your doctor will tell you to limit your intake to the odd glass of wine but it’s best to just kick the habit completely to maximise your chances of conceiving.
Is IVF for you?
Bear in mind that IVF treatment is not suitable for all couples with infertility issues. Clinics have a few tests they do to help figure out your chances from the start.
All leading clinics do a blood test at an early stage to help establish whether it’s likely to work for you. The FSH test is done between days 1 and 4 of a woman’s period and it looks for the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone in her body - a chemical that’s responsible for egg production. In men, FSH similarly causes the production of sperm and its levels can be tested at any time.
The FSH level is recorded and then compared to oestradiol, because the two interact in women to affect egg production. Everyone’s FSH levels decrease with age but what women really need is for their FSH and oestradiol to be balanced. Your doctor will analyse the results of this test and from it, be able to tell you what your chances are of conceiving though IVF. Different clinics have different ideas of what the upper and lower levels should be. Your levels may change over time, so you might be asked to wait a bit.
Another test some clinics do for women who wish to conceive through IVF is the AMH (anti-mullerian hormone) test. This hormone is manufactured in the ovaries and is linked to how many eggs are hiding away inside. The higher the result the better, giving a good indication that a woman is likely to be able to release a fair number of eggs in each IVF cycle. However, it’s only a guesstimate, and women with low AMH levels do still go on to have children. Egg donation is always a great second option & one that is more common than you may realise.
Some of the best fertility clinics will also now do an ultrasound on women to take a look at the follicles of their ovaries. While each one is a dinky 2-8 millimetres across, an expert can recognise these and count them. The number of antral follicles a woman that can be spotted in a scan is a clue to how many primordial follicles there are. It’s inside these that immature eggs are snoozing, ready to be woken up and made into a baby!
While the ultrasound’s on, your doctor will also look for any odd bits and bobs such as cysts or fibroids inside the womb that may cause infertility.
The truth behind stress
Going through IVF and working through infertility problems can be a stressful time. If you don’t feel worried that things won’t work for you, you’re feeling concerned about the money you’re spending. In fact, 30 per cent of couples give up their treatment early because of worry over money.
Well, fertility experts have never been convinced by the idea that infertility is linked to stress, and the latest research suggests that it’s simply a common misconception that feeling wound up and low in spirits affects your chances of conceiving. Researchers in sunny Greece and not-so-sunny Cardiff reviewed 14 previous studies of over 3500 women undergoing fertility treatment. In results published in The British Medical Journal, they couldn’t find any link between how stressed the woman felt and whether she fell pregnant or not. Good news!
Still, it’s never nice to feel down. At M-Care Fertility, our affordable treatment packages help ease money worries and we firmly believe that undergoing infertility treatment abroad in our excellent care centres offers is in itself an opportunity to de-stress. You can, to some extent, treat it like a holiday.
Your next steps
Our patients, who have successfully come through infertility treatment in our excellent overseas centres, know that we offer great value for money, the latest medical technologies, expert care and great surroundings to help you relax.
Before you contact us to discuss IVF and treatment for infertility, why not take a look at our What is IVF? article or our Fertility Treatment Options page. These will explain more about the process, give you a bit more information about things and make you feel confident before getting in touch. Happy reading!
Topic: Infertility Advice