Dr. Gayatri Satpathy, Associate Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility
Infertility is a relatively common condition affecting one in 6 couples. It is a misconception that IVF is the only treatment offered if a couple walks into an infertility clinic. In fact, it is just one of the multiple treatment services offered at the clinic. There are often less invasive, low cost fertility treatment options available that give patients a good chance of success.
WHEN TO GET YOURSELF TESTED?
If a couple has not been able to get pregnant after one year of unprotected intercourse, both partners should get evaluated with an infertility specialist. Other causes which require evaluation are if they have a history of recurrent pregnancy losses or family history of any genetic disorders or an elderly couple.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TESTS DONE ON A COUPLE?
A thorough assessment of the general health of both partners is done. The initial female fertility evaluation includes assessment of her ovarian reserve, uterus and the fallopian tubes. Male factor infertility is associated in nearly 50% of all cases of infertility. Hence, male partner should complete a semen analysis early on to evaluate any problems with sperm production or function.
WHAT ARE LOW COST FERTILITY OPTIONS?
In many instances, simple lifestyle changes can also help in improving one’s fertility potential. Overweight or obese women can ovulate easily if they lose at least 5-10% of their body weight. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, exercising and quitting smoking can increase the chances of conceiving a healthy pregnancy.
Ovulation problems affect up to 20% of women who are having trouble getting pregnant. In such a situation, medications can be given to help in ovulation. This is known as ovulation induction, which can be started at the beginning of the menstrual cycle; ideally day 2-5. The infertility specialist can help the woman know the time of her ovulation with the help of ultrasound and blood tests, if necessary. It can be combined with timed intercourse.
For some couples who have sexual dysfunction, mild problems in the sperm number and movement, or are in a long-distance relationship, Intrauterine Insemination (popularly called IUI) can help to get pregnant. In this process, processed sperm sample is directly pushed into the woman’s uterine cavity at the time of her ovulation.
For certain women who have fibroids or polyps or endometriosis, fertility enhancing surgeries can increase the chances of conception. They may range from being painless procedures not requiring anesthesia to daycare procedures to laparoscopic surgeries requiring 2-3 days admission.
WHAT IS IVF?
In vitro means outside of the body. Within vitro fertilization, the sperm fertilizes the egg outside of the body. This makes it easier to ensure that the sperm actually makes its way to the egg. It can also enable a doctor to see how the embryo develops. Once an embryo begins developing, it is then implanted back into the uterus.
There are a few conditions that absolutely require IVF, such as blocked fallopian tubes, couples who require genetic testing of the embryos, absent or low sperm count or unsuccessful attempts with less invasive treatments. Many couples still believe that IVF provides their only chance of having a baby; however, this is not always the case. With various low-cost fertility options available as many as 40-50% of the couples are able to conceive with the guidance of an infertility specialist.