There are many causes and contributing factors that can lead to problems with fertility, especially in older people, but that does not have to mean that there is no hope. With the incredible advancements in In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) it is possible to overcome a multitude of issues. Infertility can be down to the man, woman, or a combination of both. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) plays a part in infertility for 8-10% of women, while 30% of the time infertility may be attributed to the male partner and in many cases the cause is treatable. Issues such as weight, erectile dysfunction or low sperm mobility need not be the end of any hope of having a family. With IVF and other treatments from IVI the chances of getting pregnant sharply improve. And as a bonus, pregnancy is an excellent temporary treatment for PCOS.
Hope for the future
Causes of infertility vary, but for many people infertility does not have to be the end of the line. IVI is proud to boast a 90% success rate for pregnancy in patients who undergo an assisted reproduction treatment. This can include artificial insemination and egg donation as well as IVF, and we will always work with the patient to determine the most suitable treatment before progressing. IVF may be the best option for women who suffer from endometriosis or PCOS. These two syndromes are very different. Neither of them results in automatic sterility. Around 20% of women have polycystic ovaries (PCO), and 10% of women suffer from endometriosis. Having either or both of these syndromes is not automatically a barrier to becoming pregnant. Though where there is an overlap, the probability of falling pregnant does fall dramatically.
PCOS & pregnancy
Women with PCOS may have difficulty getting pregnant because they do not ovulate in a regular pattern. Irregular or absent menstrual cycles can be a sign of this sort of problem, and mean that as an egg is not being released it will be impossible for one to be fertilised naturally. With IVF, the egg is removed from the female body, fertilised in the lab (or ‘in vitro’), and the resulting embryo returned to the womb. PCOS may seem like a tricky thing to overcome, but actually, most women who suffer from this condition will have successful pregnancies. The issue of cysts growing on the ovary does not prevent fertilisation and pregnancy – it only prevents the release of the egg. Once the embryo has been created, many women who opt for IVF go on to have a healthy baby.
An unintended, yet wonderful, benefit to pregnancy in these cases is that it can provide relief from the pain of PCOS. Sufferers can feel cramping in their lower abdomens as the ovaries try to release eggs, and with pregnancy this is suppressed. Other symptoms that should recede over the course of gestation include hair loss on the head, excessive hair growth on the body and acne. Though these symptoms should not be the reason for a PCOS sufferer attempting to conceive, the news that there might be respite can come as a relief during a time which might be intense in other ways.
The male factor
Infertility in men is often something that is rectified with specific treatment with hardly any problem. The male partner’s infertility is the leading cause in failure to conceive in up to 40% of cases. Where the male partner’s infertility is a contributing factor to failure to get pregnant naturally, IVI see a fantastic rate of success when IVF is employed. One factor may be obstruction of tubes, which impedes the spermatozoa’s journey from the testes. This type of disorder may prevent semen from being deposited correctly during coitus. Another may be a drop in the quantity and quality of semen due to age. Men who have previously opted for a vasectomy may also be affected by this. In these cases, IVF presents a superb option. The procedure takes sperm directly from the testes, directly avoiding issues that result from tube obstruction or age-related problems with semen production.
Weight & other issues
An important point to remember is that being overweight often has a negative impact on fertility. If one or both partners are overweight, fertility can drop significantly. In situations where this is the case, the patient and the male partner may be required to attend to the issue before being considered as viable candidates for IVF or even other assisted reproduction treatments. The female partner’s excess weight may contribute to hormonal imbalances and cause PCOS. In addition, obese women will have a higher chance of miscarriage should pregnancy occur. Happily, dropping excess weight may often be treatment in and of itself, meaning that the couple is more likely to conceive naturally. Where the couple still opts for other treatments, reducing excess weight will have an excellent effect on the likelihood that the treatment will result in a healthy pregnancy. It is worth considering paying attention to this factor in any case.
Other factors in infertility that may be easily treatable with assisted reproduction are: other injuries to the fallopian tubes; uterine or cervical anomalies; prostate pathologies; a mixture of issues, in which case both the male and female partner suffer from conditions which contribute to infertility; and finally, unexplained causes. Unfortunately, sometimes it is not possible to determine the cause of a couple’s infertility. However, this is often something that can still be addressed, and need not spell the end for hopes of conception.
With IVI, 9 out of 10 couples who consult us regarding infertility problems achieve their goals. We are proud to have played a part in creating many happy families around the world, proving that barriers such as weight, PCOS, and infertility in men are treatable and can be circumvented. We are delighted that in situations which could have prevented conception in the past, IVI’s research and innovation has resulted in so many healthy pregnancies. PCOS and infertility are no longer the obstacles that they once were, and even with a variety of infertility problems many couples can go on to have healthy, happy children.