Couples who have been unable to conceive naturally for over one year should seek advice from a fertility specialist to assess and determine the possible cause/s. The cause of infertility can relate to factors in both men and women. The most common cause of infertility in women (accounting for 40% of cases) relates to the ovarian cycle, where women may not be releasing enough or viable eggs; or physical abnormalities such as blockages in the fallopian tubes, uterine abnormalities, endometriosis (growth of uterine wall tissue outside the uterus), or PCOS
Infertility in men (accounting for 30% of cases) usually relates to sperm production, in both quality and quantity. There may also be anatomical obstacles to ejaculation or sperm production. Hormonal irregularities and genetics may also influence fertility in both men and women; but 30% of infertility actually relates to unexplained factors in both genders.
Age influences Success Rates
Success rates are influenced by many factors and can differ case-by-case depending on the unique cause of infertility and lifestyle choices or the patient. But the success of IVF treatment in all candidates is largely age-dependent. A woman is at her peak fertility in her 20’s, with egg quantity and quality declining after the age of 35. For women under 35, assisted reproduction is successful around 40% of the time. It is recommended for women older than 35, who are still trying to conceive after 6 months, to seek advice from a fertility specialist. In men, particularly over the age of 50, the viability of their sperm also declines with age. One should not be discouraged, however, as over 25% of couples are still successful with IVF.
The IVF procedure does not come without its challenges. Mentally you should feel that this is the best option for you both. You should be prepared to undergo a series of physical and invasive tests to establish your eligibility for IVF, as well as making the necessary lifestyle changes as recommended by your specialist. These include both partners being tested for HIV/Aids and Hepatitis B and C, as well as undergoing genetic screening. For women, the exam also includes a hysterosalpingography, Pap smear and ovarian function test, among other tests. Men are required to provide a sperm sample to test the quality and quantity of sperm.
Once a couple is considered eligible, they should understand what is involved in the entire IVF procedure, including the numerous hormonal drugs that will be administered and the risks involved. They should also consider the possible financial restraints of the procedure, if for example they require a second cycle of treatment after the first was unsuccessful. IVF can be an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows, influenced by hormonal therapies and the overall treatment process, thus it’s important to receive full support and guidance throughout your treatment. Added attention to stress relief and self-care; a balanced, supplemented diet with gentle exercise and alternative therapies, like acupuncture, can be beneficial.