Ten Fertility Facts
1. Infertility doesn't discriminate
Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system and it affects both men and women. For this reason, during the inital infertility work-up it is imperative that the male partner's fertility is tested as well as the females. Testing for male fertility is simple and non-invasive; a semen sample is taken to a laboratory and the sperm are observed under microscope. This test is called a semen analysis. Because 40% of fertility problems are attributed to the male, no treatment should be initiated before knowing the results of this test.
2. Understand you are not alone.
It seems that everyone knows someone who has had trouble conceiving. The fact is that 7 million couples, on average, 1 in 6 couples of reproductive years, will be infertile. The good news is that if they seek treatment and have the emotional and financial wherewithal, even couples with the most complicated cases can be successful in having a baby. Patient advocacy groups and online patient networks are great resources for information. You are not alone.
3. The woman’s age is a key indicator of future success
You will find this fact emphasized throughout this website and cannot be repeated often enough. The single most common misperception among women is that they can achieve a pregnancy at any age. It is not true. A woman’s fertility naturally decreases with age and fertility treatment results follow the same lines, down over time, beginning in the early 20’s and dropping more rapidly after 35. Even with IVF, pregnancies over the age of 42 are uncommon. But what about those Hollywood stars who are having babies at 45, 48 and even 52? These women are most likely using donor eggs.
4. Know when to seek help
For women under 35, infertility is defined as 12 months of unprotected intercourse without conception. For women over 35 it is defined as 6 months of unprotected intercourse without conception. If you stopped taking birth control a few years ago but haven’t been actively “trying” you should also consider speaking to your doctor just to be sure everything is ok.
5. Know where to seek medical help
75% of women begin at their OB/Gyn and 15% of women go directly to a reproductive endocrinologist or fertility center. Both doctors will begin the same way, an infertility work-up of the male and female to uncover any potential causes of infertility. The Ob/Gyn may do surgery to improve physical conditions or possibly prescribe Clomid treatment to induce ovulation or to overcome a very mild male factor. For anything more advanced, most will refer out to the specialist. These days, more and more OB’s are referring patients out to a specialist when the patient first suspects infertility, citing the advantages of patients going to a specialist whose entire practice is focused on infertility.
6. Do you homework first, especially if you know you need a fertility specialist.
Infertility impacts couples medically, emotionally, and financially. You want to be sure that you are going to the best place for you and your partner. From a medical perspective, evaluate your doctor’s training, the clinic’s track record of success, and their treatment volume. From the emotional perspective, what kind of resources for support do they offer and is it integrated into the practice or part of an outside service? Are you comfortable with interactions you’ve had with staff? Cost is a big issue – do you get the sense they are on your team when it comes to insurance and payment options? Most importantly, seek the recommendation from people you trust, your doctor or friends who have gone to the Center.
7. Insurance often does cover fertility treatment.
8. In Vitro Fertilization is often not the first option.
Many patients will begin with “low tech” treatment, achieve a pregnancy and never have a need for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Others because of their diagnosis, blocked fallopian tubes or advanced age, will have to go straight to IVF or Donor Egg to help them conceive. Patients who go to a fertility center are not typically “pushed” into IVF. Most specialists will take a stepped care approach to balancing your chances for success and the simplicity of the procedure. While IVF offers outstanding success rates, it may not be necessary.
9. IVF is not experimental and the incidence of high-order multiple births are decreasing.
Over the past 25 years, In Vitro Fertilization technology and our knowledge about the reproductive processes have improved, affording many more couples the ability to conceive. Let’s consider the fact that nearly 150,000 babies have been born from IVF since Louis Brown appeared on the scene back in 1978. Pregnancy rates have nearly doubled, Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) has almost eliminated the need for donor sperm, and high-order multiple births have nearly been eliminated in Center’s like Shady Grove Fertility who are leading the charge in putting back only one embryo whenever possible.
10. More of the same treatment is not always better.
When you are going through any fertility treatment it is important to understand that your chances for pregnancy are most likely going to be optimized by 3-6 treatment cycles. If pregnancy isn’t happening and if no new information has been found to help improve the current treatment plan, then it is time to move on to the next option. If you have been taking Clomid for 6 months or more, it may be time to consider your next steps, especially if you are over the age the age of 35.