Do you know what happens when you have a hysterosalpingogram or about the significance of your AMH levels? More importantly, how much do you know about the ever-increasing options for fertility treatments now available? The majority of men and women who decide to start a family never have to think about these issues. But the 15% of individuals and couples who do experience problems may find themselves in more familiar territory.
In this fertility facts article, we offer a quick roundup of 10 fast facts about infertility and another 10 facts about fertility treatments. For each of these, you will find a link to one of our articles or pages on the topic so that if you want more in-depth information, or if any of the issues affect you personally, you can find out more.
10 fast facts about infertility, plus 10 facts about fertility treatment
- Public health, private pain. Infertility has been identified by the World Health Organization as a global public health issue. About 84% of couples trying to conceive will succeed within one year, but that leaves 16%, or about one in seven couples, who experience infertility. For these individuals, it is more than a public health issue and causes personal disappointment, stress and real grief.
- Treatment: A decrease in infertility is bucking the trend. According to the US’s National Centre for Health Statistics, infertility is actually decreasing in spite of a rise in the number of women having difficulty conceiving. How is this possible? They conclude that the wide and well-known availability of fertility treatments is counteracting the trend.
- Older first-time parents. Many men and women are delaying starting a family for financial, social and relationship reasons. For women especially, this can cause problems with an age-related decline in fertility. At age 19 to 26, there is more than 50% chance of conceiving on the most fertile day; this reduces to under 30% for women aged 35 to 39.
- Treatment: Fertility preservation now means that women who delay parenthood for social reasons, or who are facing cancer treatment which may damage their reproductive organs, can protect and extend their fertility. Research has shown that a woman’s age at the point of thaw has little or no effect on the chances of success, whereas the age at the time of freezing is very important. Eggs frozen before the age of 35 allow a higher success rate than the natural conception rate as a woman gets older.
- A dramatic decline in sperm quality over the last 10 to 20 years has led to a large increase in male infertility. A study led by IVI research scientists confirmed that the proportion of men at risk of needing treatment for infertility almost doubled from 12.4% in 2004 to 21.3% in 2017, representing an increase of 9% of the population in just over a decade.
- Treatment: Intrauterine insemination, or artificial insemination as it is also known, is one of the most widely used fertility treatments and can often provide a simple answer for male-female couples where the man has low sperm quality. Its success lies in the fact that the sperm are processed which eliminates those of poor quality, concentrating on the most viable.
- The first IVF baby was born in 1978. The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology reports that, since this astonishing development in human reproduction, over 8 million IVF babies have been born worldwide. And the story doesn’t end there.
- Treatment: IVF advances and new techniques include the process known as ICSI – Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. This involves selecting a single sperm and injecting it directly into the egg to facilitate fertilisation. It has been so successful that it is now the favoured option by two-to-one over ‘traditional’ IVF in clinics throughout Europe.
- IVF success rates have improved. At IVI, we have a cumulative pregnancy rate of 71.3% per cycle for women using their own eggs, increasing to just under 80% for women using donated eggs.
- Treatment: These success rates have been helped by new technologies for embryo selection, including use of the EmbryoScope which allows real-time monitoring of development, revealing the best time for the transfer to be made.
- Some infertility can be caused by hidden genetic abnormalities. In such cases, IVF on its own would not cure the infertility. However new techniques for pre-implantation genetic testing show much improved results.
- Treatment: IVF including genetic testing (PGT-A) allows for improved embryo selection to give increased confidence to potential parents in cases where there is a medical indication of increased risk of conditions such as Down, Turner and Klinefelter syndromes. Further genetic testing choices include PGT-M which tests for single-gene disorders and PGT-SR which tests for chromosomal structural rearrangements. These tests give new hope to carriers of inheritable genetic diseases.
- Multiple births as a result of IVF were, in the early days, a high risk associated with premature birth, low birth weight and even stillbirth. Researchers have established that these poor outcomes are associated with the multiple births due to the transfer of more than one embryo, not with the IVF process in itself.
- Treatment: Single Embryo Transfer as part of the IVF process is offered by IVI in order to eliminate the potential problems associated with multiple births. A further advantage is that embryos remaining from the first cycle can be frozen and kept available for future cycles if necessary.
- Using an egg donor, women who are completely without eggs can still become pregnant and give birth to a healthy child. Donor matching is improving all the time.
- Treatment: Donor matching techniques for both egg and sperm donors have developed significantly. A programme such as IVI’s Perfect Match 360⁰ uses advanced AI techniques for physiological, biometric and genetic matching.
- Using a sperm donor, single women and lesbian couples can fulfil their dreams of becoming parents.
- Treatment: Artificial insemination and IVF with donor sperm and the ROPA method. The ROPA method allows two female partners to share motherhood actively, with one being the genetic mother providing the eggs and the other being the birth mother providing the womb.
- Infertility awareness is improving all the time. But are you still wondering about that hysterosalpingogram? Or the significance of your AMH levels?
- Treatment: These are just some of the diagnostic tests which, depending on your circumstances, could be carried out to determine the cause of your fertility problems and recommend a treatment. Find out more from our video about what to expect from your first visit to IVI.