The subject of infertility has always been a sensitive issue and, more often than not, one that does not get the focus it deserves. Recently Time Magazine even went so far as to call infertility ‘one of the last great cultural taboos’. The fact is that those who don’t find it difficult to conceive never really think about it, while those that are unable to have children on their own terms, can often be too uncomfortable to discuss it. This really shouldn’t be the case.
Infertility cases are on the rise, with more and more factors cropping up, contributing to infertility becoming a commonplace medical issue. A surprising fact, yes, but one that should also be common knowledge. As should the good news that goes with it. There are now more treatments available than ever before, with each showing steadily rising success rates. So why is it that infertility is still only discussed in hushed tones, when the information available to those it affects is freely available and overwhelmingly reassuring?
Studies have shown that infertility can affect anyone at any point during their lives. This means you are not the only one going through it and shouldn’t be ashamed, you may have had children before but conceiving a second or third time can be just as much of a struggle, and that seeking medical help means nothing more than giving yourself the best possible chance of conception.
There are a wide range of treatments available to those who are struggling with infertility, as there are many different reasons why a couple may not be able to conceive. A course of treatment will be decided based on the couple’s age, the cause of the infertility and how long they have been trying to have children.
If the infertility lies with the man, your doctor will usually suggest hormone replacement, treatment for erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation. All this aims to improve the quality and the delivery of sperm.
Treatments for women include inducing ovulation using fertility drugs, undergoing surgery (usually hysteroscopic) to deal with conditions like endometrial polyps, and intrauterine insemination (IUI) where healthy sperm is placed directly into the uterus at the time of a woman’s cycle.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) may even be recommended in some cases. The most common ART technique is in vitro fertilization (IVF), which is when multiple mature eggs are retrieved from a woman and they are fertilized in a lab. These embryos are then implanted into the uterus three to five days later. IVF cycles offer the opportunity for a fertility specialist to attempt other methods including utilizing donor sperm or eggs, surrogacy and assisted hatching where the outer layer of the embryo is opened to ensure implantation in the uterus.
Fertility preservation is also a common practice, with many people opting to freeze their eggs or sperm to ensure that when they want to have children they have the ability to do so. As other illnesses such as cancer can cause complications even after the patient has made a full recovery.
Whether you are planning to have children, trying to conceive or may someday consider having children, it is always worth the time it takes to stay informed about infertility and its treatments, staying informed will prepare you and may even allow you to help others when they need it most. When considering your options it’s important to find a place where you feel comfortable, even if it means going for a second or a third opinion. Do your research thoroughly and look at testimonials and comments from previous patients. Happily, when it comes to infertility, you will be pleasantly surprised at how kind, caring and understanding the medical personnel are, so you should in great hands no matter where you decide to have your treatment.