What is Infertility?
Infertility is the term to describe a couple’s inability to conceive. We understand the emotional toll that pregnancy challenges create for women and their partners, and we provide compassionate, professional care that seeks to overcome the barriers between you and your new family.
Should I Have an Infertility Evaluation?
Approximately 1 in 8 couples will experience difficulty with conception. Screening is not a preemptive step; it is performed when certain criteria are met. You could benefit from infertility screening if you:
- Are under 35 and have been having unprotected intercourse for one year or more.
- Have had multiple miscarriages.
- Are over 35 and have not conceived after 6 months of well-timed, unprotected intercourse.
Can Both Men and Women Be Infertile?
Infertility is a complex issue that may involve one or both partners. For that reason, infertility evaluations are typically performed on both the male and the female partner. The risk factors, which include age, weight, alcohol and tobacco consumption, and sexually transmitted disease exist for men and for women. Conditions such as endometriosis and tubal disease can make it difficult for a woman to conceive or sustain a pregnancy.
Infertility evaluation seeks to identify the condition that is inhibiting pregnancy. Diagnostic testing may include urinalysis to track ovulation, thyroid function tests, ovarian examination, basal body temperature, and hormone assessment. Your doctor may perform ultrasound imaging as well as procedures such as laparoscopy or hysteroscopy, through which vital structures are observed.
Male Infertility Evaluation
Men are often assessed for sperm count and quality when evaluating for infertility. If the sperm count is low or other problems are suspected, a referral to a urologist specializing in male infertility will be given where an ultrasound may be performed to observe and evaluate the tubing and duct system through which semen moves. The scrotum may also be observed with ultrasound imaging. In some cases, hormone testing may be performed.
How Long Does It Take to Diagnose Infertility?
Basic infertility testing for women may be complete over the course of a few menstrual cycles. The more diagnostics that are involved, the longer the process may take. If the male partner undergoes infertility evaluation simultaneously, it is possible to have the process completed six months or less. It is important to remember that only 60% of infertility cases indicate a clear cause.
Is a Diagnosed Cause Necessary to Treat Infertility?
Not necessarily. Infertility treatments have been successful in many cases where no cause has been found. One of the first things you can do to improve your chances of conception is to establish a healthy lifestyle. Some couples abstain from all alcohol and from smoking and recreational drug use. Talk with your doctor about medications and supplements you are taking. Implement stress-management strategies to minimize stress hormones in your body.
Every case is different and may respond to one or more therapies revolving around reproductive health. If a woman is diagnosed with endometriosis or tubal anomaly, surgery may be performed to unblock tubes or to remove excess tissue from outside the endometrium.
Hormone therapy may be prescribed to restore balance and encourage regular ovulation. The release of the egg from the ovaries may be inhibited by hormone production. This is referred to as polycystic ovary syndrome. Before focusing on ovulation induction with hormone therapy, we must rule out thyroid disease.
What Is Ovulation Induction?
Ovulation can be induced by certain prescription drugs. This method of infertility treatment may be recommended when ovulation, and thus menstruation, has been irregular and when other causes have been dismissed. According to research, ovulation induction with clomiphene citrate has a 40% success rate. There are side effects to ovulation induction, including nausea, breast tenderness, hot flashes, and moodiness. Also, 10% of women who undergo ovulation induction become pregnant with twins.
Other Treatment Options
There are several methods that physicians use to help couples conceive. The general rule of thumb is to begin conservatively. Methods such as intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization. These infertility treatments involve the introduction of sperm into the uterus or introduction of healthy sperm directly to the egg. Both of these methods may coincide with hormone therapy and/or ovulation induction.