Some month ago we have launched a campaign #startasking but what does asking really mean? What does it involve?
Asking is the first step of a process of understanding why you are not getting pregnant and this process can take many different roads and bring you to totally different conclusions.
When couples first start thinking about seeing a doctor, because they are having difficulties conceiving, often they hesitate about going to a fertility specialist & IVF clinic as this is mostly because they aren’t yet ready to acknowledge they may have a problem and definitely not ready to consider IVF treatment.
To help ease this concern I want to try and explain what is involved in an initial fertility assessment and how the doctor works with you to develop a personal treatment plan that suits your specific case.
Your fertility specialist will take a medical history and based on that will prescribe some tests for both partners to identify the factors that could be affecting your fertility.
The specialist will also advise you on the impact of any other health problems that you have and how they can influence your fertility. For some couples simple attention to their health and diet may be all that is needed.
For women generally the initial step is to have a blood tests to check your egg reserve, hormonal balance, infections and a specialised ultrasound to check the condition of your fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries (HyCoSy). For men, as well as blood tests to assess infections and fertility hormones, the principal investigation is a semen analysis to check the quantity, motility and morphology of sperm.
Your fertility specialist will then explain your test results and go through the possible reason as to why you are having difficulties conceiving. The specialist will then advise you on the treatment options available for your particular fertility issue as well as your possible chance of achieving a successful pregnancy, either naturally or with each assisted reproductive treatment.
If there is a problem in the uterus such as fibroids or polyps or an ovarian cyst, it may be that surgery will be the right approach and able to solve the problem without requiring any further fertility treatment.
If the problem appears to be a difficulty with ovulation as in PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), taking medication to induce ovulation can increase the chance of conception through timed intercourse and in many patients this can be a very effective treatment. In cases of minor sperm abnormalities Intrauterine insemination (IUI) or artificial insemination, can be the most suitable treatment. IUI involves inserting the male partner’s prepared sperm into the uterus close to the egg at the time of ovulation.
IVF is only offered as the first line of treatment for infertility only in limited and clear cases as severe issues with the male partner’s sperm or the woman has both the tubes blocked or removed or in some cases when the women is over the age of 40. IVF treatment may also be recommended if you know or suspect a genetic condition or chromosomal abnormality and want to test the embryos and transfer only those embryos without the condition.
The message of this blog I want to be to you is, “Do not be afraid of asking”, burying your head in the sand does not make the problem disappear and can lead to a long delay in diagnosis, worsen the problem and finally decrease your chances of success.
At BFC, our fertility specialists are here to support patients by giving them all the facts and options, then helping patients to make the right decision for them. We will work with you to develop a treatment plan that you’re comfortable with and this normally means starting with some simple treatments and moving towards the more complex treatments over time, but only if necessary.
And remember that ultimately, the final decision and the best choice about how you proceed is only yours. #startasking
Dr. Roberta Corona
In Conversation with Dr. Juliet Skinner and Anna Hosford: The Story of How Barbados Fertility Centre (BFC) Began
A conversation with Dr. Juliet Skinner and Anna Hosford, co-founders of the JCI...