Failed pregnancy tests?

There’s more to infertility treatment than IVF. Once you get to the root of the problem, it’s best to consult an expert to help chalk out theright treatment modality, explains Dr Shobha Gupta.

It is estimated that globally 60-80 million couples suffer from infertility every year, of which, probably, 15-20 million are from India. It could be very disappointing to get a negative pregnancy test month after month, especially when you are trying hard to conceive. But before assuming that in vitro fertilization (IVF) - or having a test tube baby, as it’s called in common parlance - may be the only option, it’s important to know some of the very common causes of infertility.

Here’s looking at five possible reasons for infertility and what you can do about the problem:

You don’t have enough healthy eggs

You’re born with a fixed number of eggs but the number and health of your eggs declines as you get older. In fact, a healthy and fertile 30-year-old has only 20 percent chances of getting pregnant each month, according to a report published in American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

What to do: Optimising egg health is key. So get yourself down to a healthy weight. And if you smoke or drink, quit now. Do not consume drugs for egg formation, unless the doctor has advised you to go in for an intrauterine insemination (IUI) and IVF. Consult a good fertility centre and try to complete your family before 35 years of age.

It’s your partner’s problem

Male infertility is responsible for up to one-third of infertility cases. If your partner is overweight, alcoholic or a smoker, it could be affecting your chances of getting pregnant. An infection or inflammation of the prostate glands could also be the cause.
What to do: Losing weight and quitting drinking and smoking are of utmost importance. It’s also advisable for your partner to see his doctor for a physical examination and a semen analysis. Both you and your partner must take lots of citrus fruits and anti-oxidants. Medication and IUI or IVF could be the possible options, depending on the problem. 

You don’t ovulate

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can cause irregular menstrual cycles and an increase in male hormones, affects about five to ten percent of women and is one of the most common reasons that women don’t ovulate. Women with infrequent menstrual periods, increased growth of hair on face, chest, and stomach, are likely to have PCOS. In addition, being overweight, underweight, alcoholic, or having a thyroid imbalance, can affect ovulation. 

What to do: One of the best ways to improve your fertility is to have a healthy weight. It’s also important to be screened for PCOS and rule out other medical conditions. If you already know you don’t ovulate, it’s prudent to consult an infertility specialist.

You have endometriosis

Endometriosis is a common medical problem that, often, has emotional
consequences for women. This disorder, currently, affects about 89 million young women in the reproductive age group worldwide, out of which 25
million are Indian women. It causes the lining of the uterine cavity to appear in the abdominal cavity, which can cause painful periods, heavy bleeding, and
infertility in 30 to 50 percent of women. This is one of the major reasons for
inability to conceive in women between 25 to 30 years of age.

What to do: Seek treatment as soon as you plan to get pregnant. You may  require treatments like IUI or IVF.

Blocked fallopian tubes

When the fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged, tubal factor, which accounts for about 35 percent of infertility,         occurs. Tubal factor infertility can be caused by a previous surgery,                 endometriosis or sexually transmitted diseases. STDs such as Chlamydia are known to cause tubal factor infertility even after several years of diagnosis and treatment.

What to do: You have to make sure that the tubes are open. Otherwise there’s no way for the sperm and egg to meet. Your doctor can screen for tubal factor with an x-ray, and if the tubes are blocked, IVF is the best treatment.

(The writer is an IVF consultant at Mother’s Lap IVF Centre, Delhi)

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