Infertility is when a couple is unable to conceive after 12 months of regular sexual relationships without protection. If the patient is more than 35 years old, then infertility treatment is started earlier. Read the article to know more.
Infertility is a condition where the couple is unable to conceive after 12 months of regular sexual relationship without birth control.
In some cases we do not wait for this 12 month period to start investigating eg if the patient’s age is 35 or more, patient has irregular menstrual cycles, PCOS, endometriosis, pelvic infections, has had appendisectomy etc.
It's a myth that infertility is always a "woman's problem". Half of all cases of infertility result from problems with the man's reproductive system. Most infertility results from physical problems in a man or woman's reproductive system. Sometimes we may not be able to find a cause for infertility (Unexplained infertility).
In some cases we may ask for tests to detect ovarian reserve (number of eggs in the ovary). Additional tests include ultrasound scan to assess health of reproductive organs & to check ovulation (egg release).
Tubal patency can be checked by HSG or Hysterosalpingogram which is an X ray test or during a laparoscopy (key hole surgery). You may also need hysteroscopy (camera test for uterus) if we suspect fibroids or polyps in the uterus hindering pregnancy.
Infertility treatment can range from practical lifestyle changes to extended medical procedures - depending on the nature of the problem.
As a first step, it may just be a few simple measures, like sexual education, awareness of fertile period and adhering to a healthy lifestyle.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is the term used for advanced infertility treatments. These treatments are designed to increase the number of eggs or sperm, and to bring them together, thus improving the likelihood of pregnancy.
OI (Ovulation induction): This is offered when the female has irregular ovulation. Medication is provided to increase the number of eggs released to improve chances of pregnancy.
IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination): This is the method by which processed semen is placed directly in the uterus with the help of a catheter.
IVF (Invitro Fertilization): IVF means fertilization of an ovum outside the body and consequently, the transfer of the fertilized ovum (embryo) into the uterus of the woman.
ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection): In this technique, a single sperm is directly injected into the cytoplasm of an egg in order to achieve fertilization.
In fertility treatment, the egg is fertilized outside the body. Medications will be given to boost egg production in a woman. Then, the egg and the sperm are fertilized in the laboratory. After fertilization, the embryo is placed in the uterus and allowed to grow.
The chances of getting pregnant with fertility are quite high. However, the possibilities depend on the age of the person as well—the younger the individual, the greater the chance of getting pregnant with fertility treatment.
The most effective fertility treatment depends on the individual's requirements. However, the most common fertility treatments may include artificial insemination, intrauterine insemination, and in vitro fertilization.
There might be some amount of discomfort that may be associated with fertility treatment. Few patients may experience more significant pain than others due to the injections. The drugs given for fertility treatment may be associated with abdominal pain.
One cycle of IVF (in vitro fertilization) usually takes two to three weeks. However, one may require more than one cycle. Fertility treatment, on average, takes five to six months.
Infertility can affect anyone. However, some factors pose an infertility risk. These include age, excessive use of alcohol, smoking, and lifestyle disorders such as diabetes, PCOD (polycystic ovarian disease), and thyroid.
The beginning of fertility treatment can happen by choosing the right team of doctors. The doctors will then evaluate the person's overall health and design a treatment plan.
The ideal age to get pregnant varies depending on various factors. Some may consider late pregnancy over an early issue. However, the body is in the perfect condition to bear a child from the mid-20s to early 30s.
The signs of female infertility may include the inability to conceive, menstrual irregularities, or menstruation that could be absent.
The various tests that could be performed to check for infertility include blood tests to see hormone assessment, semen analysis, and other scans the doctor may deem necessary.
Regular menstruation does not guarantee fertility and vice-versa. But, on the other hand, a person can have good fertility even without regular cycles.
Infertility does not always mean the absence of eggs. However, at times the eggs may not be produced at regular intervals, or they may not be of good quality.
Infertility can be understood as the inability to get pregnant after trying to conceive for over a year. Unfortunately, infertility is a common problem. It may occur in almost 10 % of the population.
Last reviewed at:
26 Aug 2022 - 2 min read
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