What does it mean?
Infertility (the inability to conceive after 12 months of unprotected sex) affects a growing number of couples around the world (between 10% and 15%). The main causes are blocked tubes or ovulation for women, and the absence of sperm in men. However, 10% of couples will be diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
The number of infertile couples has increased in recent years mainly because many couples put off planning a pregnancy, whether for professional or personal reasons. The older the woman, the more likely she is to have been exposed to an infection that could have damaged her tubes or developed endometriosis. Also, fertility in women decreases significantly with age by the decrease in the number of eggs. The risk of miscarriages also increases with age. Visits to fertility clinics have also increased in recent years, as well as the success of various fertility treatments which have improved greatly.
What goes on at the fertility clinic?The couple will answer questions and undergo a physical examination which includes collecting samples for analysis.A consultation with a psychologist is encouraged. Infertility is a great source of stress for couples, so, psychological support can help. The woman is advised to take a folic acid supplement, which decreases the probability of malformations in the unborn baby.
After the initial tests…If the tubes are blocked or abnormal, it may be possible to treat with a laparoscopy. If the spermogram is abnormal, a urologist, specializing in fertility, will do a physical examination and take blood tests. The treatments vary but we will often resort to inseminations with the sperm of the spouse or, in severe cases, to in vitro fertilization with micro injection or the use of donor sperm. If the woman has a hard time ovulating naturally, it can be induced with medicine, by taking pills or by injection.
And if the tests come back normal?
It’s important to keep in mind that the objective of the fertility treatments is to accelerate the onset of a pregnancy, which would have occurred sooner or later. After one year of infertility, about 60% of couples will conceive without receiving any treatment whatsoever. When the infertility has gone on over a year, and up to three, the probability of a spontaneous pregnancy is very low. Clinical treatments, such as ovulation stimulation and in-vitro fertilization have the best chance of success.
Knowing your body, tracking your period, living a healthy lifestyle, and seeing an OBGYN on a regular basis are critical. If you’ve already had your first period, the time is right! Your health is important!