In 1978, Drs. Steptoe and Edwards used assisted reproductive technology (IVF) successfully resulting in the birth of Louise Browne. Ever since this technology has not only helped women conceive in situations where it would not have been possible otherwise but has also laid bare the entire process of reproduction thus helping the scientists to understand the intricacies of this process better. Today, with Louise giving birth to a child, IVF has become a credible option for family building!
WHO estimates that there are 60 – 80 million such couples all over the world suffering from infertility thereby making this condition an epidemic. Although there are no definite studies from India, it is estimated that it is affecting nearly 10-15% married couples from India and due to rapid modernization and increasing environmental toxins, the condition is on the rise. Nearly 27.5 million couples who are actively seeking children suffer from infertility. In the Indian society childlessness is viewed not just as a medical disorder but a social stigma because Indians marry early, traditionally have a stable family norm and have a desire to produce many children thereby producing an ever-increasing demand for all kinds of therapies and interventions. Infertility management has, therefore, become an integral part of reproductive medicine in the country.
Many couples realize that they are unable to conceive after trying naturally for months or even years. When they seek assistance, their healthcare provider conducts simple tests to find out the cause of this problem. It has been seen that females are responsible for 30% of cases, 30% of men and in 30% it will be both the man and woman. With many advancements in reproductive medicine, it is now possible to help nearly all couples who come to us.
Currently, 10-15% of couples are infertile worldwide. Infertility is rising due to the following reasons:
Most experts suggest at least one year. Women aged 35 years or older should see their doctors after six months of trying. A woman’s chances of having a baby decrease rapidly every year after the age of 30.
Some health problems also increase the risk of infertility. So, women should talk to their doctors if they have—
It is a good idea for any woman to talk to a doctor before trying to get pregnant. Doctors can help you get your body ready for a healthy baby. They can also answer questions on fertility and give tips on conceiving.
No, infertility is not always a woman’s problem. Both women and men can have problems that cause infertility. About one-third of infertility cases are caused by women’s problems. Another one-third of fertility problems are due to the man. The other cases are caused by a mixture of male and female problems or by unknown problems.
Is infertility a common problem?
Yes. About 10 % of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15–44 years have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant.
Men Seek Infertility Services
Many couples struggle with infertility and seek help to become pregnant; however, it is often thought of as only a women’s condition. But a CDC study analyzed data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, and found that 7.5% of all sexually experienced men reported a visit for help with having a child at some time during their lifetime—this equates to 3.3–4.7 million men. Of men who sought help, 18.1% were diagnosed with a male-related infertility problem, including sperm or semen problems (13.7%) and varicocele (5.9%).
Anderson JE, Farr SL, Jamieson DJ, Warner L, and Macaluso M. Infertility services reported by men in the United States: national survey data. Fertility and Sterility 2009; (6):2466–2470.
Infertility in men is most often caused by—
Sometimes a man is born with the problems that affect his sperm. Other times problems start later in life due to illness or injury. For example, cystic fibrosis often causes infertility in men.
A man’s sperm can be changed by his overall health and lifestyle. Some things that may reduce the health or number of sperm include—
Most cases of female infertility are caused by problems with ovulation. Without ovulation, there are no eggs to be fertilized. Some signs that a woman is not ovulating normally include irregular or absent menstrual periods.
Ovulation problems are often caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormone imbalance problem which can interfere with normal ovulation. PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is another cause of ovulation problems. POI occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before she is 40. POI is not the same as early menopause.
Less common causes of fertility problems in women include—
Many things can change a woman’s ability to have a baby. These include—
Many women are waiting until their 30s and 40s to have children. In fact, about 20% of women in the United States now have their first child after age 35. So age is a growing cause of fertility problems. About one-third of couples in which the woman is older than 35 years have fertility problems.
Ageing decreases a woman’s chances of having a baby in the following ways—
We believe that fertility problems affect the couple as a whole and it is, therefore, necessary for both partners to be equally involved in all stages of diagnosis and treatment.
However, according to statistics, 40% of fertility problems are due to female partners, 40% due to male partners, 10% are attributable to both and the rest is unexplained.
Doctors will do an infertility checkup. This involves a physical exam. The doctor will also ask for both partners’ health and sexual histories. Sometimes this can find the problem. However, most of the time, the doctor will need to do more tests.
In men, doctors usually begin by testing the semen. They look at the number, shape, and movement of the sperm. Sometimes doctors also suggest testing the level of a man’s hormones.
In women, the first step is to find out if she is ovulating each month. There are a few ways to do this. A woman can track her ovulation at home by—
Doctors can also check ovulation with blood tests. Or they can do an ultrasound of the ovaries. If ovulation is normal, there are other fertility tests available.
Some common tests of fertility in women include—
Finding the cause of infertility can be a long and emotional process. It may take time to complete all the needed tests. So don’t worry if the problem is not found right away.
Semen analysis is carried out to find out the characteristics of semen regarding the count, motility and shape of sperms.
Semen sample should be provided after abstinence of 3 days and should reach the laboratory within half an hour of collection. Always get the sample tested at a reliable lab, preferably at the IVF lab.
Besides these tests, other tests may be necessary such as:
Sometimes the method of semen collection is not correct leading to growth in the semen sample. For correct methodology, please contact the staff at IVF center.
If the report is abnormal, the test needs to be repeated after a gap of 6 – 12 weeks. Culture sensitivity also needs to be carried out. Semen report can be abnormal temporarily due to illness like viral fever or some medication.
Infertility can be treated with medicine, surgery, artificial insemination, or assisted reproductive technology. Many times these treatments are combined. In most cases, infertility is treated with drugs or surgery.
Doctors recommend specific treatments for infertility based on—
Doctors often treat infertility in men in the following ways—
In women, some physical problems can also be corrected with surgery.
A number of fertility medicines are used to treat women with ovulation problems. It is important to talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of these medicines. You should understand the possible dangers, benefits, and side effects.
Some common medicines used to treat infertility in women include—
Many fertility drugs increase a woman’s chance of having twins, triplets, or other multiples. Women who are pregnant with multiple fetuses have more problems during pregnancy. Multiple fetuses have a high risk of being born too early (prematurely). Premature babies are at a higher risk of health and developmental problems.
Management depends upon the cause of infertility and hence each couple is treated accordingly.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is an infertility treatment that is often called artificial insemination. In this procedure, the woman is injected with specially prepared sperm. Sometimes the woman is also treated with medicines that stimulate ovulation before IUI.
IUI is often used to treat —
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a group of different methods used to help infertile couples. ARTworks by removing eggs from a woman’s body. The eggs are then mixed with sperm to make embryos. The embryos are then put back in the woman’s body.
Common methods of ART include —
ART procedures sometimes involve the use of donor eggs (eggs from another woman), donor sperm, or previously frozen embryos. Donor eggs are sometimes used for women who can not produce eggs. Also, donor eggs or donor sperm is sometimes used when the woman or man has a genetic disease that can be passed on to the baby. An infertile woman or couple may also use donor embryos. These are embryos that were either created by couples in infertility treatment or were created from donor sperm and donor eggs. The donated embryo is transferred to the uterus. The child will not be genetically related to either parent.
Success rates vary and depend on many factors. Some things that affect the success rate of ART include —
CDC collects success rates on ART for some fertility clinics. According to the 2007 CDC report on ART, the average percentage of ART cycles that led to a live birth were—
ART can be expensive and time-consuming. But it has allowed many couples to have children that otherwise would not have been conceived. The most common complication of ART is multiple fetuses. But this is a problem that can be prevented or minimized in several different ways.
The chances of fertilisation and pregnancy largely depend upon the cause of your infertility. The chances of conception through ART at our center is about 35- 45% with a carry home rate of 29% which is comparable to the best centers around the world.
It is a medical center highly specialised in the methods of diagnosis and treatment of fertility problems with staff trained in assisted reproduction techniques.
What are the causes of male infertility?
We understand that patients undergoing treatment are under great stress and need all the support they can get. The strength of our team of specialists lies in its patient-centric approach where empathy, care & expertise are accompanied by the best of facilities.
Both partners should visit the IVF centre together. They will meet the consultant where a detailed history will be taken and physical examination may be carried out. Basic infertility investigations will be done, which will help to find out the cause of infertility.
You can go through IVF as many times as you wish. It depends on your physical, mental and financial status. However, we advise up to a maximum of 4 cycles.
A surrogate is a woman who carries a pregnancy for another couple or woman.
There are two types of surrogacy arrangements:
Much of the conflict surrounding surrogacy is a result of issues surrounding the legality of binding agreements agreed to before the conception or birth of a child. Traditional surrogacy is, therefore, an approach that carries more legal risk.
Surrogacy is both a medically and emotionally complex process that involves careful evaluation by medical professionals, and legal professionals to ensure that the procedure is successful for both the surrogate as well as the intended parents.
As such, the majority of surrogacy conducted in India involves the use of a gestational carrier.
Indications for Use of a Gestational Surrogate:
The initial indication for use of a gestational carrier is a woman who has normally functioning ovaries but who lacks a uterus.
CONTRAINDICATIONS TO PREGNANCY
Selection of a Gestational Surrogate:
Gestational surrogates may be known to the intended parents or may be anonymous. Known surrogates are typically relatives or friends who volunteer to carry the pregnancy. Anonymous surrogates are identified as thorough agencies that specialize in recruiting women to become surrogates. The surrogate should be a minimum of 21 years of age and have delivered a live-born child at term. Maximum age indicated by ICMR guidelines is 45yrs. The use of a gestational surrogate of advanced age is particularly challenging. The obstetric complication rate, especially the incidence of pregnancy-induced hypertension or gestational diabetes is much higher. Evaluation of a woman’s overall health and appropriate screening for underlying medical conditions that might complicate a pregnancy, as well as counselling regarding the obstetric risk should be performed if considering an older surrogate. Written consent for each point must be taken. No woman may act as a surrogate more than thrice in her lifetime.
Evaluation of the Intended Parents and Gestational Surrogate:
Counselling of Gestational Surrogates and the Intended Parents:
Counselling of surrogates is intended to provide the surrogate with a clear understanding of the psychological issues related to pregnancy. With the assistance of a mental health professional (MHP), the gestational surrogate, and her partner should explore issues such as managing a relationship with the intended parents, coping with attachment issues to the fetus, and the impact of a gestational surrogacy arrangement on her children and her relationships with her partner, friends and employers. The intended parents should be counselled regarding their ability to maintain a respectful relationship with the surrogate.
The surrogate, the intended parents, and the MHP should also meet to discuss the type of relationship they would like to have. Also, the expectations they have regarding a potential pregnancy should be discussed.
This includes a discussion of the number of embryos for transfer, prenatal diagnostic interventions, fetal reduction and therapeutic abortion, as well as managing the relationship while respecting the carrier’s right to privacy.
Several legal issues concern surrogacy. Written consent should be obtained for any procedure. With surrogacy arrangements, legal contracts, in addition to delineating financial obligations, may include details regarding the expected behaviour of the surrogate to ensure a healthy pregnancy, prenatal diagnostic tests, and agreements regarding fetal reduction or abortion in the event of multiple pregnancies or the presence of fetal anomalies. Finally, many states allow for a declaration of parentage before the child’s birth obviating the need for adoption proceedings. The laws regarding third-party reproduction are either non-existent or different from one state to another. Thus, all couples are advised to consult with an attorney knowledgeable in the area of reproductive law within their states.
Chances of conception for a given couple having regular unprotected intercourse are 80% after 12 months, and 90% after 18 months. Based on this, it is usual to begin an investigation after 1 year.
Infertility is defined as the inability to attain pregnancy after 1 year of regular unprotected intercourse. If you have not been able to conceive after trying for 1 year. Advice should be taken earlier if the female partner is nearing the age of 35 or has irregular periods or has a history of pelvic infections If male partner has sexual dysfunction/ ejaculatory problem/ undescended testis.
Male factor infertility (oligoasthenoteratozoospermia, obstructive azoospermia, retrograde ejaculation, anejaculation):