Pregnancy, by itself is understood well by most of us. A woman conceives when her egg is fertilized by a man's sperm to form an embryo. This embryo then implants itself into the woman's womb, and grows over 9 months.
Most couples don't have a problem getting pregnant. Regular unprotected sex is all it takes to conceive a child and indeed in up to 85% couples, this is so.
This column is for those who belong to the remaining 15%.
The anxiety of a childless couple is understandable. 1 in 6 couples are diagnosed with infertility, following which they receive tons of free advice. Often, the advice may be well-meaning but incorrect. Consequently, the couple may end up trying self-medication, incorrect treatments, superstitious shortcuts etc. Often, the couple is too shy to ask the doubts and queries they really need the answers to!
The journey from being a carefree and happy couple, to a couple that fears any conversation about fertility, is full of uncertainties. At Cocoon, our goal is to take the fear out of the fertility conversation, and bring in a scientific patient -oriented approach.
Infertility is a scientific and medical condition. Once the cause is known, it can be treated as well. Difficulty in conceiving can be due to factors in the woman or the man or both.
In a woman, common causes could be -
1. Ovulation disorder: There are a variety of reasons why a woman may have no ovulation or irregular ovulation cycles. There can be no baby without ovulation.
2. Blocked fallopian tubes: The fallopian tubes are the pathways in which the ova travel from the ovaries down into the uterus, and if there is a blockage in these tubes, the egg and sperm won’t meet to form a baby and accounts for 25% of infertility cases.
3. Endometriosis: This is a common cause, affecting 35-50% of the cases. Endometriosis is when the lining of the womb grows outside the womb e.g. in the ovaries or in the pelvis. This can cause ' chocolate cysts' in the ovaries, affecting the quality of eggs. Also during periods this will bleed causing adhesions around tubes, and subsequent blockage of the tubes.
4. PCOS: Polycystic ovarian syndrome is characterized by a hormonal imbalance in the female body where androgen (male hormones) levels are raised. Improper or absent ovulation in PCOS leads to infertility. In a man, common causes could be
1. Low Sperm Count: 20 million sperm per mL or more is a healthy sperm count. Anything less than
that is considered low sperm count, and can hamper the chances of conception.
2. Poor sperm health: This includes sperm motility (movement of the sperm, tail whip), morphology
(shape/proper formation of the sperm) and sperm DNA fragmentation. Smoking and alcohol are known to negatively affect both sperm count and sperm health.
3. V as deferens blockage: The Vas Deferens is the tube in which the sperm travels to be ejaculated. In case of complete blockage of the vas deferens, there may be zero sperm (azoospermia). This blockage is often caused by sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea or chlamydia.
Sometimes, infertility is caused due to a combination of factors affecting both the woman and the man.
So if you've been diagnosed with infertility, do not lose heart. Because, while the diagnosis can feel devastating, fertility issues are not uncommon. Taking the fear out of fertility, requires, that you accept professional medical help. At Cocoon Fertility, we take an evidence based, individualized approach to fertility treatments. Every couple that comes to us, becomes a partner to the process and knows what to expect next.
When it comes to fertility treatments, it is important to take one step at a time. Don't scare yourself by imagining that the treatments are difficult or expensive. Don't preempt the outcome or presume disappointments. Stay focused every step of the way.
Also, remember to ask as many questions as needed, specific to your case, to your doctor. Learn as much about your situation as you can. Let your doctor know your apprehensions. With knowledge comes both faith and empowerment. Not all patients need IVF. Your situation is unique to you and after assessment a correct plan can be made for you. You are not alone, and there is no need to be embarrassed.
There is greater acceptance of fertility treatments today, and hence, options like EMI may be available to you. Make sure to ask. At Cocoon Fertility, we believe that the doctor-patient teamwork is what creates exceptional results.
It is time to replace the fear in IVF, with faith.
Here's everything you need to know about IVF
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