What to do when you suspect infertility
If it has been more than a year of unsuccessful attempts at conceiving, it is time that you should consult your doctor. For women who are already 35 years or older need to consider this time period as 6 months and should see a doctor after 6 months of unsuccessful attempts.
Women above the age of 40 years must consult a doctor within 6 months of unsuccessful attempts at conception. With progressing age, the chances of getting pregnant decrease as the body undergoes through changes.
What would the initial line of treatment be like?
- The initial steps would consist of tracking your ovulation cycle and synchronizing it with intercourse, monitoring of your basal body temperature and testing of cervical mucus etc.
- Some doctors may advise ovulation-inducing medications for a few cycles before proceeding ahead with other diagnostics or treatment methods.
- Sometimes, couples consider themselves infertile soon after trying for a short duration. It is important to note, that a couple is called infertile only after a year of unsuccessful attempts at conception.
- When you cross that one-year period, and efforts like synchronizing ovulation with intercourse fail to give positive results, your doctor might ask you to undergo certain diagnostic tests for both partners after a thorough physical examination and medical history discussion.
Causes of infertility
- In one-third of fertility cases, female factors play the major role, in another third male factor are responsible and in remaining one third the cause remains unknown, despite everything being normal, the couple fails to conceive.
Hence it is important to get both the partners treated and then treat the cause.
- For testing male fertility factors, a semen analysis will be recommended to analyse the sperm count, motility and overall shape and structure of the sperms.
- A female having issues with conception a gynecologist needs to be consulted, similarly, for male factors of infertility one must consult an andrologist.
Tests & diagnosis
- Your doctor will discuss your social history, sexual history (including the history of sexually transmitted diseases, previous pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages, etc.), medical history, family history, lifestyle habits (including smoking, drug abuse, alcohol dependency, tobacco consumption, any medication, etc.).
In some cases, minor changes in lifestyle habits and sexual behavior can help in conception and further tests or treatment may not be required.
- Blood investigations, to understand the hormonal levels may be needed.
- Thyroid or other hormonal disturbances might make pregnancy difficult, and hence, bringing them back to normal can be extremely helpful.
Similarly, cases, where obesity is the major reason for infertility, can be tackled with some amount of weight loss only.
- Stressful life is another major reason for infertility nowadays and can be controlled with counselling.
- Your doctor may advise you to undergo an X-ray or a pelvic ultrasound to check the anatomical structure and rule out any abnormality which might have been interfering with conception.
Certain conditions like Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis or Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases (PID) can make conception difficult.
The diagnosis of infertility can be completed within a few menstrual cycles as the doctor needs to be watchful about the changes your body undergoes during every menstrual cycle.
Read: Lifestyle Tips for PCOS
Emotional aspects of infertility
It is often shocking and takes time to accept infertility. It can be extremely challenging emotionally and take a toll on mental health.
Given the fact that the condition may take years to resolve or might not resolve often makes it all the more difficult to be acknowledged.
It is important to talk to your doctor and explore all the available treatment options. Emotional stress can further derange the hormonal levels and complicate conception further.
Treatment of infertility
In most cases of infertility, the commonly advised female infertility treatment is to undergo Assisted Reproductive Treatment. However, the rate of success of this method depends on multiple factors and vary from couples to couples.
The factors are largely uncontrollable and hence the success rate can’t be predicted accurately. Your doctor will brief you about all the assisted treatment methods (which includes IVF, IUI etc. Fertility related procedures) available as per your condition.
You might be subjected to multiple types of procedures depending on the efficacy of the initially chosen method or may have to undergo through the same procedure multiple times in multiple ovulation cycles to make it successful.