When Nature Is Not Enough
Getting pregnant is often described as a natural process. However, as so many people have discovered, nature does not always work the way you want it to. Sometimes, babies cannot be conceived naturally and what is termed ‘Reproductive Assistance’ is needed.
This section could also be called: ‘When nature is the problem’. There are some inhibitors to your fertility that cannot be overcome naturally and those problems may be due to physical, hormonal or lifestyle factors. If you suspect that you have one of these conditions, or if, up to now, nature has not been enough, then talk to one of our specialists and get their input.
Here are just some of the ailments that we come across regularly and how they impact fertility. We know that you want to understand as much as possible about what is causing your fertility problems.
Endometriosis is one of the most common conditions affecting women in their reproductive years. Endometriosis occurs when endometrial cells, usually found only in the womb, migrate to other areas of the pelvic cavity such as the fallopian tubes or the ovaries. This endometrial tissue can appear as spots or patches called implants or as cysts on the ovaries and can affect surrounding tissue, causing adhesions or scar tissue. A woman’s ability to conceive might be impacted by endometriosis causing a blockage in the fallopian tubes. It could also interfere with the ovulation function or diminish optimal conditions for the travelling egg/oocyte. The only real way to diagnose endometriosis is by surgery or laparoscopy. Laparoscopy allows direct visualization and ideally biopsy of areas suspected of having endometriosis.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) causes symptoms in up to 20% of women of reproductive age. In fact, it is the single biggest inhibitor of female fertility. PCOS can interfere with hormones that regulate reproduction and the ovulation process. PCOS is easily recognised through clinical assessment, hormonal analysis and ovarian ultrasound. PCOS does not necessarily mean difficulty in becoming pregnant, and is often treatable with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. At Rotunda IVF, we can give you best guidance and advice in tackling the treatment of PCOS.
The process of Ovulation is complex. There are a number of barriers to conception that you can encounter along the way. Diagnosing an ovulation problem is straightforward. It requires blood tests and, in some cases, an ultrasound scan. Many women respond to medication that boosts the ovulation process, meaning IVF is not always required.
Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Fallopian tubes must be free and clear for a successful pregnancy. Blockage of the fallopian or reproductive tubes account for 20-25% of fertility problems experienced by women. The most common causes are chronic infection, endometriosis or swelling of the tubes by secretion (hydrosalpinx). Using X-Ray, laparoscopy, or a simple procedure called a HSG (hysterosalpingogram), we can easily identify whether tubal blockage is a problem. If confirmed, you will either be referred to a Rotunda IVF consultant who specialises in tubal surgery or you will be referred for IVF treatment.
Sometimes, the root cause of infertility can be psychological rather than physiological. It is not uncommon for a person to lose interest in sex due to stress or lifestyle factors. Some women even experience pain during sexual intercourse. At Rotunda IVF, we are well used to working with patients with sexual difficulties. It takes commitment and openness to address these issues, and resolving those problems can be wonderfully rewarding. Our counseling team is a great resource, with a wealth of experience and training to help guide couples through this time.
Male Reproductive Issues
While millions of sperm are produced every day in the testes, its development is complex. Medications, hormone imbalances, and environmental factors can all affect production, maturation and quality of sperm. Although approximately 40 million sperm are released at ejaculation, sperm are very small and most of the semen consists of fluid that provides nutrients and enzymes to nourish the sperm. Just as the journey of the egg can be held up, the transportation of sperm can sometimes be a root cause for infertility. The epididymis is responsible for the sperm’s maturation, storage and transport. Sperm gain motility and an ability to fertilise an egg, once they pass through the epididymis. This process takes about 4 days before reaching the ejaculatory ducts.