Fertility problems explained
There are many different issues that can affect your ability to conceive. Understanding what is the problem is the first step in finding a solution. Some common fertility problems are:
- Advanced female age – A woman’s fertility declines with age. From the age 35 onwards, fertility decline increases and after the age of 40 it can sharply decline. There are a number of biological factors that contribute to this problem.
- Low ovarian reserve –This factor is usually associated with older age. A woman’s ovary is like a warehouse; it contains a certain number of eggs that are gradually used up over time. If the number of eggs in the ovary is low, then it becomes more difficult to conceive. Women who are at risk of an early menopause or premature ovarian failure (POF) could have low ovarian reserve even when they are younger.
- Male factor infertility – There can be a number of different issues that affect the fertility of the man. This can range from bioogical factors such the anatomy or structure of the man’s reproductive organs, the number of sperm produced, the quality of sperm, the man’s immune system to lifestyle factors. Sometimes it may be a combination of these factors or even other factors.
- Endometriosis – This condition is when endometrial tissue, which usually lines the womb, grows outside of the womb. It can cause problems such as the build up of scar tissue or interference with ovulation.
- Ovulation disorders – Fertility problems arise when a woman has irregular periods or does not have periods.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – This is a syndrome that affects many women. There are three main features; that there are multiple follicles in larger ovaries; there is irregular ovulation or that there are high levels of androgens in a woman’s body. If a woman has two of these features, she will usually be diagnosed with PCOS.
- Tubal disease – This is when the fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged. This can block the egg from travelling from the ovaries to the uterus, and thereby prevent it meeting the sperm.
- Unexplained infertility – sometimes the cause of infertility remains unknown after investigations. In this circumstance, it may be possible to help a couple to conceive a child with the appropriate treatment plan.
Every couple is unique and more than one of these factors may be present.
Fertility diagnosis is the foundation of our approach to your care. By accurately assessing your condition and circumstances, it allows us to advise you appropriately and tailor our treatments for you.
Advanced ultrasound scanning
For the woman, we use advanced ultrasound in order to assess your fertility status and pick up details that might otherwise be missed. We do an antral follicle count and measure the volume of the ovary in order to assess egg reserve. We also look at the womb to find out if there are any abnormalities that might affect implantation.
One of the most important benefits of our advanced ultrasound scanning is that it provides us with qualitative information about your fertility. We use Doppler scanning to assess blood flow to the ovarian tissue, to the womb and we can even assess blood flow to individual follicles (egg sacs). A cell in the body that receives good blood flow is likely to be a healthy cell; it has received a good supply of oxygen and nutrients. By assessing blood flow to follicles, we can ascertain which eggs may be of better quality.
Sometimes we can use this information to help you have a baby without the need for treatment. We will always do our best to help you to have a baby naturally.
Our Medical Director, Professor Nargund, was the lead author on the first scientific paper on One-Stop Fertility Diagnosis using Advanced Ultrasound Technology. We firmly believe in the importance of Ultrasound in giving you the best chance to have a baby.
Other investigations and tests
We will take a full medical history and may ask for additional investigations or tests. In order to reduce costs, we will write to your GP to ask that he/she perform some of the blood tests. Also, we will not repeat any investigations you have had recently although because of the advanced nature of our scanning techniques, we will ask that you have a scan with us.