It is important for us, IVF specialists, to help couples understand how fertility treatment helps when experiencing fertility issues. There’s a lot of information about fertility. Many incomplete or outdated, even inaccurate. And it can be a real challenge to get oriented.


What is the definition of “infertility”? When to consult fertility specialist if I think it’s taking too long to get pregnant? 

More and more couples struggle with an infertility diagnosis. What counts as infertility? A infertility diagnosis is based on two main factors:

  • age
  • the amount of time trying to conceive without getting pregnant

The facts:

If you are under 35 and have been having unprotected intercourse regularly for a year without achieving pregnancy, you meet the definition of infertility.

If you are over 35 and after six months or more of regular unprotected intercourse you haven’t become pregnant, you also fulfill the requirements for an infertility diagnosis.

In both cases, it is appropriate to seek help as soon as you’ve been trying long enough to meet the criteria for infertility. Many varieties of infertility are linked to age. The sooner you seek an expert opinion, the sooner you get some answers and can start with treatment.

How is determined why you are having trouble conceiving?

Series of diagnostic tests and an in-depth medical history, for both partners is essential. Initial tests needed is a sperm analysis for men, and blood tests and ultrasound to check ovarian and uterine function for women.

First round of tests’ results lead to either establishing treatment plan, or further testing. Up to 25% of infertility is “unexplained”, meaning there’s no obvious cause. But that does not mean that it is untreatable. Even in cases of unexplained infertility assisted reproductive technologies can be very effective.

There is a myth that undergoing fertility treatment means you are much more likely to have a multiple pregnancy.

Multiple pregnancies are much more risky for both mother and babies. Best practice in fertility medicine is to reduce risk as much as possible. 

In the past, number of multiple pregnancies were significantly higher with IVF treatment. In order to increase the chance of a successful implantation doctors routinely transferred multiple embryos. Developments in both technology and techniques mean we can now grow embryos in the lab for longer and transfer only a single high quality embryo with good chances for success. In some cases, more than one embryo may be transferred, but only if the fertility specialist permits.

What is fertility preservation, who is it for, and when to consider?

Fertility preservation means freezing eggs, sperm, or embryos for the future, using cryopreservation. At first fertility preservation was to help people facing a potentially fertility-damaging illness or treatment, such as cancer and chemotherapy. The technology has improved, eggs and sperm can be safely frozen and stored without any significant loss in quality.

Egg freezing is an option for young women who plan to have a family, but aren’t ready yet. And women’s eggs decline in quality with age. In fact, one of the most common causes of infertility is low ovarian reserve and poor egg quality due to age. When freezing your eggs, you stop the clock on those eggs. And using own younger eggs when you’re ready can make getting pregnant with the help of IVF much more likely. 

Fertility preservation programs' costs lowered which has put the price of fertility preservation within the reach for many more women. It is not a guarantee having a baby at the time as we plan, preserving eggs provide much better options in the future.

What happens if I want to freeze my eggs but I’m on birth control?

You may be asked to stop taking your birth control for 1 to 3 months in order to get back onto your natural cycle and hormone levels before a stimulation cycle. If you are worried that you might get pregnant in that time, it is possible to do blood test to measure anti-mullerian hormone (AMH). AMH test shows your ovarian function. It is up to your fertility specialist to decide the best plan suited for you.

Does freezing my eggs or undergoing IVF impact my natural supply of eggs? Are there going to be any left?

This is one of the most common myths about fertility preservation and fertility treatment. Women often assume that they will “use up most of their eggs” and it would make it harder to get pregnant later. But no, this does not happen.

Every cycle body activates and begins to mature a number of eggs in follicles on ovary, while many more die in the process, due to natural cell death. 

When you ovulate naturally, only one (or two, in rare cases) of those eggs will make it all the way to maturity and is released in ovulation. The rest are simply reabsorbed into your body.

In a stimulated cycle, preparing for egg collection, the fertility medications help your body grow more eggs to its maturity. At the end of the cycle, you have the same number of eggs in your body that you would have had if you had never undergone the procedure. Plus an additional number of mature eggs in the laboratory, ready to be frozen or fertilized. 

When it comes to fertility, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. It is important to find answers to the questions that come as you consider options for fertility treatment and preservation. 

We hope this post helps you as you do your research, but nothing can replace the experience of talking directly to IVF doctor, asking your own questions, and getting answers right from the expert. If you are dealing with fertility issues or just planning for the future, to have a consultation is the best way to find the answers you need.


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