From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect Before You’re Expecting. Health information on this site is based on peer-reviewed medical journals and highly respected health organizations and institutions including ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), as well as the What to Expect books by Heidi Murkoff.
Upwards of 30% of couples seeking fertility care are labeled with unexplained infertility. Given that over 50% of couples’ infertility struggles are at least partially attributable to the male, understanding the source of male infertility could allow for improved care. The limited set of male tests can only detect the major causes of infertility (i.e., azoospermia) leaving the less obvious factors invisible.
All pregnancies can be risky, but there are greater risk for women who are older and are over the age of 40. The older the women the riskier the pregnancy. As women get older, they are more likely to suffer from conditions such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. If older women do conceive over the age of 40, their offspring may be of lower birth weight, and more likely to requires intensive care. Because of this, the increased risk is a sufficient cause for concern. The high incidence of caesarean in older mothers is commonly regarded as a risk.
Psychological factors: Studies on infertile groups of men and women have produced contradictory findings of the importance of psychological factors in causing infertility. Emotional disturbances undoubtedly appear to have some significance. This is only reasonable if you realize that the whole hormonal cycle, with its delicate adjustments, is controlled from the brain. This is an area which needs further investigation.
Fertility is often something people do not consider until they are actively trying to start a family, or in many cases after they have started having trouble conceiving. What many don’t realize is that couples ages 29-33 with normal functioning reproductive systems only have a 20-25% chance of conceiving in any given month. Add in any number of infertility factors from either gender and those chances can decrease significantly.
However, the more you understand about what's coming next, the more in control you'll feel. While every clinic's protocol will be slightly different and treatments are adjusted for a couple's individual needs, here is a step-by-step breakdown of what generally takes place during in vitro fertilization, as well as information on the risks, costs, and what’s next if your IVF treatment cycle fails.
While PGD was originally designed to screen for embryos carrying hereditary genetic diseases, the method has been applied to select features that are unrelated to diseases, thus raising ethical questions. Examples of such cases include the selection of embryos based on histocompatibility (HLA) for the donation of tissues to a sick family member, the diagnosis of genetic susceptibility to disease, and sex selection.
Fertility tourism is the practice of traveling to another country for fertility treatments. It may be regarded as a form of medical tourism. The main reasons for fertility tourism are legal regulation of the sought procedure in the home country, or lower price. In-vitro fertilization and donor insemination are major procedures involved.
During the selection and transfer phases, many embryos may be discarded in favour of others. This selection may be based on criteria such as genetic disorders or the sex. One of the earliest cases of special gene selection through IVF was the case of the Collins family in the 1990s, who selected the sex of their child. The ethic issues remain unresolved as no consensus exists in science, religion, and philosophy on when a human embryo should be recognised as a person. For those who believe that this is at the moment of conception, IVF becomes a moral question when multiple eggs are fertilised, begin development, and only a few are chosen for implantation.
As a result, most patients need to undergo multiple cycles, and as we pointed out in a another lesson, no cycle is as likely to succeed as the first one. Below is data out of the UK published in the Journal of The American Medical Association that illustrates that after a few cycles most younger patients succeed with IVF but that is not necessarily true for older patients.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
1. Changes to Your Menstrual Cycle: This may be an absence of your period, heavier than normal flow or irregular menstrual cycles may be signs of infertility. Consider tracking your menstrual cycle to help you identify patterns or changes early on. This will also be helpful in case you ever seek guidance from a physician, as he or she will inquire about your medical history.
The main cause of male infertility is low semen quality. In men who have the necessary reproductive organs to procreate, infertility can be caused by low sperm count due to endocrine problems, drugs, radiation, or infection. There may be testicular malformations, hormone imbalance, or blockage of the man's duct system. Although many of these can be treated through surgery or hormonal substitutions, some may be indefinite. Infertility associated with viable, but immotile sperm may be caused by primary ciliary dyskinesia. The sperm must provide the zygote with DNA, centrioles, and activation factor for the embryo to develop. A defect in any of these sperm structures may result in infertility that will not be detected by semen analysis. Antisperm antibodies cause immune infertility. Cystic fibrosis can lead to infertility in men.
Although menopause is a natural barrier to further conception, IVF has allowed women to be pregnant in their fifties and sixties. Women whose uteruses have been appropriately prepared receive embryos that originated from an egg of an egg donor. Therefore, although these women do not have a genetic link with the child, they have a physical link through pregnancy and childbirth. In many cases the genetic father of the child is the woman's partner. Even after menopause the uterus is fully capable of carrying out a pregnancy.
From the patient experience perspective, IVF is a more time-consuming process overall, although the length of time before pregnancy is achieved varies greatly according to how many cycles are necessary. However, because IVF is a more direct and effective route to pregnancy than IUI, it is often a less time-consuming process. For example, a patient could spend many months trying to succeed at IUI, only to succeed during the first cycle of IVF. While many patients opt for IUI at the start of their fertility journey because it is less invasive and more affordable, success rates for IVF are considerably higher.
Repeated failed rounds of IVF can help identify causes of infertility. For example, if sperm and egg quality are normal, then the conception issue may be rooted at the embryonic or implantation level. In other words, if IVF fails to result in pregnancy despite successful fertilization, embryonic development or implantation may be to blame. Still this is a very expensive way to start getting answers.