in Both Sexes
There are millions
of babies being born every single day. Unfortunately there are still
an estimated 4.9 million American couples unable to conceive. What
is causing this? I recently read an article that briefly explained
this phenomenon. It was a study conducted by a Brazilian research
team that argued that caffeine in coffee acts as a stimulant for
sperm. Although this study is still under scrutiny, I took it upon
myself to do some research on fertility.
Let’s define infertile. Infertile is defined as a woman unable
to become pregnant. Sterile is defined as a woman that is unable
to conceive. The difference between these two terms is this: Infertile
women can get pregnant with the help of modern medicine. Industrialized
countries, like the U.S., are able to use plastic insemination (also
known as invetro fertilization-IVF). Sterile means that a woman
will never be able to conceive or carry a child regardless of any
modern medicine. (Rodi).
Now, getting the facts straight: young couples (35 years and younger)
usually don’t have too much problem getting pregnant. The
younger you are, and if healthy, the higher the chance of you getting
pregnant through unprotected intercourse. However, once a woman
is over the age of 35, her chances to conceive naturally, without
any help of modern medicine, slim down to 10%. This can prove devastating
to many older couples that conceive later in life, and try to reproduce
later as well. However, this margin is not fact for everyone. Many
women have been able to conceive naturally late in life and carry
successful pregnancies. This number is true for a portion of the
population, but as with all things, there are always exceptions
to the rule. (Rodi).
Now, if you happen to be a woman over the age of 35 who has unsuccessfully
tried to conceive for more than a year, the following is a list
of symptoms possibly associated with infertility:
-severe menstrual cramps, pelvic pain, and or abnormal vaginal bleeding
-a history of genital infections or diseases
-medical illnesses and the type of treatment received from them
Although all these can be reasons as to why a woman is unable to
conceive, first and foremost, it is vitally important to consult
with your OBGYN or an infertility specialist that would better isolate
and diagnose your case.
Here is something to think about. Infertility can be caused by either
partner (man or woman). It isn’t just a female ailment. In
fact, more often than not, it is the man’s low sperm count
that is detrimental to couple’s effort to conceive. Therefore
it is important to ask your fertility expert to test both partners
in order to detect where the problem may be. The doctor should be
able take blood tests, ultra sounds, testing fallopian tubes, etc.
There is no single cause for infertility-it is not an ailment that
can be pinpointed on one cause or one partner. However, there are
several reasons that a couple can experience infertility: bad luck,
no sperm or low sperm count, irregular ovulation or no ovulation,
problems with the fallopian tube, or tubal infections. (Rodi).
Once a problem has been diagnosed and isolated, the practitioner
then has the needed knowledge to start the right and necessary treatment.
After the diagnoses, the couple is then started on the necessary
fertility treatment required for their particular needs. If couples
are still unable to conceive after a few months of the first session,
the practitioner might try to induce ovulation with fertility drugs.
The fertility drug given is dependent on the particular therapy
the patient is undergoing. In most cases, drugs are given over a
period of seven to ten days, the most common drug being follicle
stimulating hormone (FSH); this does not mean it is the only drug
available, there are other options available at the discretion of
the practitioner and the patient. (Infertility: an overview).
If this therapy is unsuccessful, the patient might consider the
invetro fertilization (IVF) program (remember, plastic insemination
where a sperm fertilizes an egg outside of the body in a lab dish.)
This particular method is quite the scientific achievement. The
fertilized egg, or rather, the embryo is transferred into the woman’s
uterus. This complex procedure takes only 10-20 minutes to complete.
This procedure has been the saving grace for many couples. The success
rate of the IVF program is high, with successful live births existing
in the range of 20%. (IVF & GIFT: H Guide).
If the above procedures are unsuccessful there are other alternatives
a couple might consider as well. Couples can get either sperm or
egg donations, or, as in some cases, even use a surrogate mother
to carry out the pregnancy. Remember that all people that either
donate or act as surrogate mothers will be screened for STD’s.
(Third Party Reproduction).
Infertility is an ailment shared by too many people. However, we
do live in an age that allows us other options. Modern medicine
has come a long way, and there is hope for people longing to conceive,
it’s only a matter of deciding.
-Ingrid Rodi, M.D www.rodimd.com
-American Society for Reproductive Medicine, formerly The American
Fertility Society. www.asrm.org
-Organization for Parents through Surrogacy (opts) www.opts.com
-Resolve: A national infertility support group www.resolve.com