Conceiving a baby can happen with just one or few love making sessions for some while for others (infertile couples) it involves a lot of effort causing stress mentally and financially. As the age of infertile couple goes up, chances of conceiving goes down and that adds to the already existing stress from family members and others.
One must note that problem of infertility doesn’t always lie with the woman. In 40% of the cases, the man can be infertile and in some cases, both of them may be infertile. When you are planning to see a doctor to have a baby of your own, there are few things you need to ask your gynecologist/doctor and know. In this article we have given some common questions that infertile couple ask our gynecologists Dr. Manu Lakshmi and Dr. Karthik Gunasekaran at Metromale Clinic & Fertility Center, Chennai.
When a couple meets their gynecologist, how does the gynecologist decide who is infertile?
The gynecologist usually starts with a series of questions about their lifestyle, habits, menstrual cycle (in women), previous injury/surgery in the abdominal region, medication that they are currently using (if any) etc. Then a series of tests may be required by the doctor to zero-in on the problem before starting any infertility treatment.
In men, infertility may be due to:
- Lesser production of healthy sperms. (Oligospermia or Oligozoospermia)
- Complete absence of sperms in the semen. (Azoospermia)
- Share of the sperms may not be good for most of the sperms. (Teratozoospermia)
- Weakness in sperms and inability to swim to the egg. (Asthenezoospermia)
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Ejaculatory Dysfunction
There may be several reasons why these problems exist in men ranging from simple food habits or smoking to drug addiction or an injury that led to erectile dysfunction etc.
In women, infertility may be due to:
- PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
- Irregular ovulation
- Presence of fibroids or ulcers or even cancer
- Change in pH value of liquids inside the vagina
- Clogged cervix that won’t allow sperm to pass through etc.
What would be the first treatment typically started by a gynecologist in infertile couple?
After diagnosing the problem, your gynecologist may start with some medicines if he/she thinks that the problem can be treated using medication. The woman may be given some hormones to stimulate the ovary to release egg if that is not happening regularly. (Note that women menstruate every 28 days approximately). The process of administering the hormones may be different, the route may be oral, vaginal or through injections.
Once the woman becomes pregnant, the doctor may put her on other medicines that prevent any miscarriage (especially if miscarriage happened in the past or if he/she is expecting miscarriage to happen).
Does general health impact fertility of a man or woman?
“Definitely Yes, overall health of a person does impact fertility, whether it is a man or a woman”, says Dr. Karthik Gunasekaran. As a person gets older, the important fertility related hormone production goes down. Similarly, thyroid conditions can affect fertility. Infection, poor lifestyle, smoking, drinking alcohol definitely has an impact on fertility of the person.
That’s one reason why before taking up a couple for IVF or IUI kind of procedures, doctor makes sure that you are in good health overall. If any or both of them need to drop weight, doctor will surely advise them to change the food habits and spend good time working out every day.
How is infertility treated in men?
Infertility treatment in men is determined by the diagnosis and the tests performed. In case of low sperm count or to treat erectile dysfunction, medications may be prescribed along with change in lifestyle habits. Lower sperm count doesn’t necessarily lead to infertility but can delay the conception.
Premature Ejaculation or other ejaculatory problems may also be treated with medicines. In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary when no medicine seems to help. Sperm Aspiration is one such procedure in which the sperms are extracted from the testes to impregnate the woman.
How is infertility in women treated?
Similar to men, the cause of the problem will be determined by your gynecologist. If there are any fibroids, cysts or other cancerous tissues found in the reproductive organs, laparoscopic surgical procedures may be implemented to get rid of them. To treat cancers, different treatments may be followed.
If the ovaries are not stimulated to produce the egg for every menstrual cycle, hormones may be injected into the body that can trigger ovulation. This is done during IVF therapy. In the IVF procedure, the egg (extracted from the woman) and the sperm (taken from the man’s semen) is fertilized in a lab and then implanted into the uterus of the woman. This is relatively an expensive procedure. Recent developments in sexual health sciences has introduced a new procedure called ‘INVOCell’ in which the fertilization is done in the vagina and after a 5 day period, the fertilized egg is moved into the uterus. This is relatively cheaper and safer procedure.
When the ovaries in a woman are stimulated, are there any chances of having twins?
When the ovaries are stimulated (rather say hyperstimulated), more than one egg may be released and if the sperms reach the eggs at that time, there are chances of having not just twins but multiple babies. In some women the hormone injections may result in Ovarian HyperStimulated Syndrome (OHSS) where the ovaries get inflamed due to the leakage of fluids from vessels in to them and are often painful.
What is the success rate of IVF or other assisted reproduction procedure?
Almost 90 percent of infertility cases are treatable with advancements in sexual health medicine. However, the chances of 100% or even 80% success rate in IVF or other assisted reproduction procedures is a total lie. One can assume the success rate for such procedures at around 60% or less. Most often, 5 attempts are made to get the woman conceived after which the odds of getting pregnant drop drastically.
How long has it been since IVF and other assisted reproduction treatments offered at Metromale Clinic & Fertility Center in Chennai?
“We have been performing many successful assisted reproduction treatments including IVF, IUI, ICSI etc for over 20 years. Metromale Clinic & Fertility Center is equipped with state of the art labs, equipment and US trained doctors who help their patients have their own baby” says Dr. Karthik Gunasekaran, one of the top sexologist and infertility specialists in Chennai.