pathway to pregnancy

28 July 2018

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Seeing an IVF clinic doesn’t mean you have to do IVF

frank quinn

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Dr Frank Quinn

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When couples first start thinking about seeing a fertility specialist, because they are having difficulties conceiving, part of the hesitation about going to a fertility & IVF clinic is often patients aren’t yet ready to consider IVF treatment. To help ease this concern it is useful to understand what’s involved in an initial fertility assessment and the range of fertility treatment options that are available, as well as learn about how a fertility specialist works with you to develop a personal treatment plan that suits you.

What’s involved in seeing a fertility specialist?

A consultation with a fertility specialist is the first step to understanding why you are not falling pregnant. Your fertility specialist will take a medical history and organise some simple tests for both partners to identify the factors that could be affecting your fertility.

For women the initial step is to have blood tests to check you are ovulating and your egg reserve and a specialised ultrasound to check the condition of your fallopian tubes and uterus. For men, as well as blood tests to assess fertility, the principal investigation is a semen analysis to check the quantity, motility and morphology of sperm. 

Your fertility specialist will then explain your test results and go through the possible reason as to why you are having difficulties conceiving. Your fertility specialist will then advise you on the potential treatment options available for your particular fertility issue as well as your possible chance of achieving a successful pregnancy, either naturally or with each fertility treatment.

What fertility treatment options are available?

Once the fertility assessment has been carried out, there are a number of different treatment approaches that can help you to conceive.

If there is a concern about the uterus or the fallopian tubes, or if your specialist is concerned about the presence of endometriosis, it may be that surgery will be a useful approach. Surgery for fertility problems is normally keyhole surgery involving only a day stay in hospital.

If the problem appears to be a difficulty with ovulation, taking medication to induce ovulation can increase the chance of conception through timed intercourse or artificial insemination. For suitable patients this can be a very effective treatment.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) or artificial insemination involves inserting the male partner’s prepared sperm into the uterus close to the time of ovulation. It is most suitable for patients with unexplained infertility, hostile cervical mucus or minor sperm abnormalities.

Your fertility specialist will also advise you on the impact of any other health problems that you have and how they can influence your fertility.  For some couples simple attention to their health may be all that is needed.

IVF is only offered as the first line of treatment for infertility in limited circumstances. Examples of this would be if there is a problem with the male partner’s sperm or the woman is over the age of 40.  In addition, you may also be recommended IVF treatment if you know or suspect you have a genetic condition or chromosomal abnormality and want to test the embryos and transfer only those embryos without the condition.

Your personal path to pregnancy

A fertility specialist’s role is to support patients by giving them all the facts and options, then helping patients to make the right decision for them. They will work with you to develop a treatment plan that you’re comfortable with and this normally means starting with some simple treatments and moving towards the more complex treatments over time, but only if necessary. Most fertility clinics in Australia can offer you the choice of the full range of treatments. Ultimately, the final decision and choice about how you proceed is yours.

Read more:Fertility Assessment in QueenslandFertility Assessment in NSWFertility Assessment in VictoriaFertility Assessment in TasmaniaFertility Assessment in Singapore

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