It’s heartbreaking to realise you may not be able to get pregnant. Infertility is not the end of the road, though. Medically defined, infertility is the inability to conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse in women under 35, or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term 꽃보다 청춘 위너 다운로드.
In South Africa, it’s estimated that one in six couples struggle with infertility.
As doctors and experts understand, lifestyle factors can wreak havoc on fertility. Dr Paul le Roux from Cape Fertility concedes that infertility is on the increase in SA, at least 10% each year. “Women are now delaying childbearing until they’re older. This is a global trend and all around the world with women having children at an older maternal age, until after they’ve completed their studies, established a career, and found the right partner. Unfortunately, medical science cannot always assist due to the deteriorating quality of their eggs. Excessive alcohol and smoking is bad for fertility, as is being over- or underweight when trying to conceive.”
A particularly sad aspect of infertility is the age factor. Age does affect fertility, especially in women. Studies show that a woman’s fertility starts to decline at age 30, and then even further in her late 30s and early 40s. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), in America, a healthy 30-year-old woman’s odds of getting pregnant during a specific ovulation cycle is approximately 20%.
Why is age such a big issue? All women are born with a finite amount of eggs, as they get older, the eggs too get older. These eggs don’t have the same “potency” as they age to respond to fertilisation. “It’s true that women have a limited number of eggs,” confirms Dr le Roux. Here, knowledge is power, and a scan of the ovaries and a blood test (called an AMH) can tell you how many eggs remain.
Male infertility is also a smoking gun, and can be brought on by the same lifestyle factors that affect women. Stress, excess body weight, smoking, too much alcohol, drug use and erectile dysfunction are all possible risk factors.
The good news
Tackling the issue of ineffective eggs, egg freezing is a viable and successful procedure that’s worked for many couples. The process of preserving eggs or oocytes is called vitrifcation. This involves stimulation with injections and getting the ovaries to product a number of eggs which are then retrieved through the vagina. Once these eggs have been extracted, they can then be frozen for the future.
This isn’t to say that the eggs, in a few years’ time, will be completely viable. Experts still debate the success rate of thawing and fertilising at a later stage. It really depends on the experience and expertise of the individual fertility centre. Some institutions have a pregnancy rate of 20-25%.
Egg donation is another possibility. This is used for women with poor quality eggs or those who are premenopausal or menopausal. The treatment involves stimulation of the egg donor’s ovaries, retrieval of the eggs and fertilisation of the eggs with the recipient’s partner’s sperm. You’ll then carry the baby, but it won’t be your DNA.
Millions of couples have also successfully opted for IVF (in-vitro fertilisation). In this process, eggs are surgically removed from the ovary and mixed with sperm. This is done outside the body in a dish and after about 18 hours, the eggs are examined to see if the sperm has fertilised them.
Other options like sperm donation and surrogacy can be helpful in certain patients, and of course – adoption. So, there are always avenues to explore.
As always, before it gets to this stage though, it’s a good idea to watch for infertility culprits (taking care to manage stress, and make healthy lifestyle choices).
- Go for regular check-ups if you want to get pregnant soon so if there are any potential threats, you can take steps to fix the problem as soon as possible.
- Always be safe when having sex. Sexually transmitted diseases can harm your reproductive system.
- Smoking and other recreational drugs can do a lot of damage to your infertility so stop well before you want to conceive.
- Interview: Dr Paul le Roux, Cape Fertility