Infertility primarily refers to the biological inability of a person to contribute to conception. For a woman, infertility refers to the inability to carry a pregnancy to full term. This can be caused by poor egg quality or inability for the embryo to attach and survive in the womb (uterus). For the man, infertility refers to low sperm production or poor sperm quality. Infertility affects approximately 20% of couples. One study conducted by Harvard Medical School, found that when it studied 200 couples being treated by a fertility clinic, that more than 50% of women and 15% of men stated that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives.
There are many biological causes of infertility. Before you proceed with an infertility procedure consider several factors including:
• Expectations: Infertility treatments are a process, so we recommend that you only proceed after setting realistic timeframes (1-2 years) and are fully committed to the process and multiple possible attempts at pregnancy. Couples need to consider that pregnancy attempts with infertility treatments could lead to multiple children during a single cycle.
• Expense: Infertility treatments aren't covered by most healthcare plans but pregnancy costs may be (such as prenatal care, labor and delivery). The costs vary depending upon the procedures and additional funds may be need for follow up care and/or additional procedures.
• Risks: Complications may include: general surgical risks; possibility of drug reactions; hyper stimulation; infection that may include fever, swelling or other signs of inflammation; bloating with irritability, moodiness and in rare cases ectopic pregnancy and birth defects.
• Recovery: Depending on the type of procedure, recovery times average from 1-3 months where residual effects of the treatment could cause a change in your body's normal behavior.
• Psychological changes: Overall, fertility interventions help about 50% of couples become parents. The success rates drop significantly with increased age. Intended parent(s) that learn they are pregnant may be overjoyed but also must learn to adjust to the new role and pressures of both pregnancy and parenthood.
After determining to pursue infertility treatments, the next step should be to find a specialist and schedule a consultation. Have a list of topics ready including medications you are currently on, questions about the procedure(s), success rates and resulting desires/expectations. Working closely with your specialist throughout the process will improve the chance of satisfaction with the results of your procedure(s).