Of Birds and Bees and making Babies
Sub-fertility treatment procedures explained
Procreation is nature’s way of making sure species don’t get extinct and reproduction or birthing of offspring ensures the cycle goes on. When it comes to man however, perceptions and preconceptions driven by culture have a larger bearing on procreation than just science. For example, in our country, it is desirable to have a large family – having babies is therefore the rule rather than exception, and couples who are childless are indeed considered unlucky. This brings me to the very relevant topic of infertility or the inability of a couple to conceive.
Approximately 15% of couples suffer from sub-fertility today. This may be due to a factor in the male partner or female partner. Ordinarily, 90% of couples living together and having a normal sexual life and not using contraception should be able to conceive within a year. And if that doesn’t happen, one needs to consider checking for factors such as consistent ovulation, fallopian tubes patency, uterine anomalies, sexual dysfunction, sperm factors, and so on. Unfortunately, I find that seeking help usually is the biggest hurdle and one would rather give into home remedies, local concoctions, instead of scientific solutions to the same. Whereas, medical help sought early enough and imparted in an uninhibited and reassuring manner may well solve the problem.
More often than not I have realised that failing to pick up ovulation accurately is a reason for not conceiving and trouble-shooting with this in mind should be the first step of the consulting gynaecologist. Today, there are several ‘apps’ to track fertility and ovulation together with clinical signs, can help plan the fertile period when a couple plans to conceive. One can also purchase ovulation detection kits which are fairly reliable in detecting ovulation. This makes it all the more easier for someone wanting to be sure about their timing of conception.
This brings us to specific cases where despite trying consistently and correctly, some couples have not been successful. In this case it becomes important to monitor the woman’s cycle through serial ultrasounds to document ovulation and identify inconsistencies if any. The treatment may include administration of tablets, followed by injections to achieve ovulation especially in cases with polycystic ovaries where medication for ovulation may be prescribed. In the event that a woman fails to conceive for three cycles (with documented follicular rupture each time), a doctor must look at tube-testing and semen analysis.
What happens if there are concerns regarding a particular pathology in tubes or ovaries such as blocks or endometriosis, fibroids or polyps? The consulting doctor may address these conditions individually with the couple following a systematic treatment procedure. Some couples have unexplained sub-fertility and laparoscopic examinations may be required together with hysteroscopy to check the uterus.
Then, there are several hormone issues which need to be looked for such as thyroid disorders and others.
Sub-fertility is a trying condition for couples and many suffer from stress and pressures to conceive soon. Qualified counselling and methods to destress should be availed of and practiced where required.
Further, newer technologies such as IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination), IVF(Invitro Fertilization), and ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) are available today, and such treatments are usually available at established advanced fertility centres.
Abnormalities in the semen report may require an Andrologist or male infertility specialist to get involved.
There are several options such as sperm donation and egg donation where applicable; and these are not unknown to the patients today, thanks to new-age cinema that has made it more mainstream. These require patient counselling, as well as sensitive handling of the issues, partner, and families involves. In addition, the laws for surrogacy in our country are under the common lens now and in extreme cases, these options may be kept in mind too.
Parenthood is one of the biggest joys of life and for those couples wanting children, the planning should start early in the married life. Talk ‘babies’ soon enough and plan in a timely way is what I would advocate. Of course, if things don’t go your way (which they sometimes do in life!) visit a trusted gynaecologist early in the ‘trying’ (no pun intended!) phase to maximize your chances.
Touch of Life wishes a happy and safe parenthood to those who want to be parents! Stay connected with us.