Conceiving a child poses difficulties for many couples, who often struggle for years without success. But many couples assume that eventually, nature will take its course. So why should you and your partner consider working with a fertility specialist? According to Tina Smith, patient coordinator at the Fertility Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, one in six American couples won’t be able to conceive without medical help. The reasons, she says, are many, and are often not readily apparent. If you’ve been having difficulty getting pregnant, working with a fertility specialist can help you unravel the mysteries of infertility and give nature the “nudge” it needs to help you begin your family.
Factors Involved in Infertility The seemingly simple process of conception – the release and subsequent fertilization of an egg, followed by implantation in the endometrial lining – must occur with perfect timing and under the perfect circumstances for a baby to be conceived. Several factors, Smith says, could affect this delicate balance, rendering a couple infertile. These factors could be related to either the man, the woman, or both. For example, she says, in order for ovulation to occur, three hormones must be present: estrogen, a follicle-stimulating hormone, and a luteinizing hormone. If these hormones are not present in the correct amounts, or if they’re released at the wrong time, eggs won’t be released. Sometimes, structural issues are to blame for infertility. Abnormalities in the uterus or cervix often pose challenges for couples trying to conceive. Blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis scarring and adhesions, and polycystic ovary disease (PCOS) can all interfere with the processes and anatomy necessary for pregnancy to occur. Female-factor issues like these are identified in about 40 out of every 100 couples seeking help with fertility. In another 40 out of every 100 couples struggling with infertility, male-factor issues are involved. Low sperm volume, abnormal genetic material, lack of propulsion, and lacking receptors can all prevent fertilization from occurring. In about 20 out of every 100 infertility cases, a cause is not determined (but, Smith says, treatments may still be available). Age also plays a role in fertility. Success rates drop for women after age 30, and for men after age 50. And, Smith says, approximately one out of every four women between the ages of 35 and 39 has trouble conceiving.
Treatment Options When you work with a fertility specialist like those at the Fertility Center, your treatment will be centered on identifying the cause of your inability to conceive and correcting it. Diagnostic options include semen analysis and advanced imaging techniques to help identify structural problems. Treatment of underlying conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids and PCOS can help set the stage for a successful conception. Where ovulation problems exist, ovarian stimulation can be used to give the body a “jump start.” And if fertilization has been the barrier to conception, techniques like intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, and intracytoplasmic sperm injection can be used. With a proven record of success, the Fertility Center offers a clear reproductive advantage for couples struggling with infertility in Chattanooga and beyond. The information in the article is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.