There are many reasons why couples are faced with infertility issues today. Not surprisingly, men contribute 50% to the causes due to problems in the sperm. The woman can be infertile due to her advancing age, ovulation problems, endometriosis or obstruction of her Fallopian tubes. Social stresses and lifestyle can also play a role, including work pressure, postponement of conception and cigarette smoking. The good thing is, infertility can be overcome with the right treatment.
Infertility treatments range from simple methods such as oral medication to induce and regulate ovulation, to advanced treatments such as intra-uterine insemination (IUI), where the semen is placed into the uterus to aid conception.
If more help is needed, the next infertility treatment to consider is the range of Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART), which includes the ‘test-tube’ baby programme (also known as in-vitro fertilisation, IVF) and direct sperm micro-injection to the egg treatment (also known as intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, ICSI).
Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) calls for an operation to collect the eggs from the woman, which will be fertilised outside the body. These are usually done in the laboratory, either via IVF or ICSI. Once the eggs are fertilised, they are placed back into the woman’s womb through another small operation.
The success rate of the ART treatment that would eventually lead to pregnancy is greatly dependent on the age of the woman. The best pregnancy rates (about 40% per attempt) usually take place in women below 35 years old. This then drops to about 10-15% upon hitting 40 years old, and less than 1% by 45 years old.
Thus, it is advisable to try for a pregnancy, with or without ART, when the woman is at her child-bearing years (i.e. between 20 and 35 years old).