One of the major milestones in a woman’s life is her entry into motherhood. For most women, when this does not happen in the natural logical sequence of things, there is anxiety and lot of pressure from family and friends.
However, with the recent advancements in Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART), there are options available, such as intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilisation (IUI and IVF). These procedures can help increase the chances of conception and pregnancy. IVF is when the egg is retrieved from the ovaries, fertilised externally and then transplanted back into the uterus where it grows to full term. However, there are always unanswered questions:
· How long to wait before going for IVF?
· is it the right procedure for me? etc.
The norm is, if after one year of trying a couple is unable to conceive then they should seek help of an infertility specialist.
Read on to know more and find answers to some of these.
- Maternal age: As a woman reaches 35 and a man reaches 40, the fertility rates drop significantly. The chances that a woman at 35 will conceive is about 20%, which goes down to 5% if the woman is 40. However, this rate can be significantly increased by using IVF. The quality of the egg would gradually deteriorate, and so if a woman is nearing 40, it is better to consider IVF as the ovarian reserve would be optimal with IVF.
- Failed intrauterine insemination: In couples who have problems with the sperm reaching the uterus like in cases where sperm motility is low or the count is borderline low, intrauterine insemination (IUI) is first attempted. However, if a couple is unable to conceive after 3-4 cycles of intrauterine insemination, they should seek the help and discuss with infertility specialist rather than only thinking of IVF .
- Duration since trying to conceive: While some couples conceive quite promptly in a month or two, most take about 6 to 8 months of unprotected sex to conceive. Therefore, IVF can be an option if you are failing to conceive even after a year. Less than a year, don’t fret. Take it easy and it might just do the trick.
- Medical health: Both the partner’s medical health should be taken into account. Lifestyle changes like smoking, alcohol abuse, drug abuse should be considered, which can account for poor sexual performance and therefore lead to an inability to conceive. Health conditions like diabetes and heart disease can also lead to infertility. Hypothyroidism in women is another thing that must be ruled out, as it often leads to an inability to conceive. A fertility specialist can help you determine if IVF treatments are the right solution.
- Sexual problems with the partner: One of the first things to do before going for IVF is to check that the male does not have any issues. Be it erection issues or ejaculation issues or sperm issues, they need to be ruled out. Sperm quality, quantity, and motility have to be analysed, and if they are optimal, IVF can be considered.
- Cancer Treatment and Fertility Preservation: The various treatments for cancer like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can result in infertility . However, there are various fertility preservation methods that men and women can opt for to preserve their fertility. Procedures like Egg Freezing, ovarian tissue freezing , and sperm banking make IVF an ideal option for such couples post cancer treatment and give them an opportunity for parenthood. Please contact your oncologist prior to treatment for cancer and discuss the fertility preservation options .
- Affordability for IVF: Couples longing to start a family are often too scared to approach a fertility specialist because of the fear of the costs of fertility treatments including IVF and medications. These couples can now approach their fertility doctors much earlier as clinics offer them financial solutions and easy payment options so that they can avail their fertility treatments. Please contact your Infertility specialist for further details regards the same.
- Multiple Miscarriages and PGS: Chromosomal abnormalities may be the cause for multiple miscarriages and repeated IVF failures. Your doctor may recommend PGS testing for you in such a scenario. PGS (Pre genetic screening) is the genetic testing of embryos which helps decipher whether an embryo has correct number and placement of chromosomes. Recent researches confirm an increase of IVF success rates by 23 percent where PGS was used. Women who would most likely benefit from this treatment are those above 35 years of age and using their own eggs, women with multiple IVF failures and women with multiple miscarriages. PGD (Pre genetic diagnosis) may be used with an IVF cycle when screening for a particular genetic disease is required like, Thalassemia , Neurofibromatosis, and other.
Those getting ready to start their first IVF cycle and those who have been through it before would have received a lot of advise regarding do’s and don’t’s to increase their success rates.
A few “pearls of advise” I can offer will be, begin with improving your lifestyle. Stop smoking,eat a healthy diet, exercise in moderation, lose the extra weight, and get more sleep.
- Don’t overindulge in alcohol.
- Reduce and restrict your cups of coffee to less than 5 cups a day.
- Attempt an IVF earlier than later. Do not wait till your biological clock starts ticking.
- Avail of alternative medical therapy like acupuncture. It helps relieve stress.
- Be patient if you are under the age of 35 years. Time is in your hand. Success rates for patients undergoing IVF in this age is more than 30 percent. Thus, if there is a male factor or other criteria requiring you to undergo an IVF, consider it earlier than later as age is in your favour.
Most important thing is do not GIVE UP!