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TOP 10: Things to Know About Fertility

1. Infertility doesn’t discriminate

Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system and it affects both men and women of all ethnic backgrounds. For this reason, during the initial infertility work-up it is imperative that the male partner’s fertility is tested as well as the females. Testing for male fertility is simple and non-invasive; a semen sample is taken to a laboratory and the sperm are observed under microscope. This test is called a semen analysis. Because 40% of fertility problems are attributed to the male, no treatment should be initiated before knowing the results of this test.

2. Understand you are not alone

It seems that everyone knows someone who has had trouble conceiving. The fact is that 10 million couples, on average, or 10-14% of couples in their reproductive years, will have fertility issues. The good news is that if they seek treatment and have the emotional and financial ability, even couples with the most complicated cases can be successful in having a baby. Patient advocacy groups and online patient networks are great resources for information.

3. The woman’s age is a key indicator of future success

You will find this fact emphasized throughout the literature. The single most common misconception among women is that they can achieve a pregnancy at any age. This is not true. A woman’s fertility naturally decreases with age and fertility treatment success also decreases with age. Success rates decline with women over the age of 35 and rapidly decreases after the age of 42 with IVF, pregnancies over the age of 43 are uncommon. But what about those Hollywood stars who are having babies at 45, 48 and even 52? These women are most likely using donor eggs.

4. Know when to seek help

Infertility is defined as 12 months of unprotected intercourse without conception. For women over age 35, they should see a Fertility Specialist, if they have not conceived after 6 months of unprotected intercourse. For women over the age of 40, they should seek treatment if after 3 months of unprotected intercourse and have not conceived.

5. Your OB|GYN is not the same as a Fertility Specialist

75% of women begin at their OB/Gyn and 15% of women go directly to a Reproductive Endocrinologist or Fertility Specialist. In general, the OB/Gyn performs the basic fertility evaluation of the male and female. Both may do surgery to improve physical conditions or possibly prescribe Clomid treatment to induce ovulation. However, for anything more advanced, most will refer out to the Fertility Specialist for a more complex fertility evaluation and treatment.

6. Do your homework

Infertility impacts couples medically, emotionally, and financially. You want to be sure that you are going to the best place for you and your partner. From a medical perspective, evaluate your doctor’s training, experience and success. From the emotional perspective, what kind of resources for support do they offer and is it integrated into the practice or part of an outside service? Are you comfortable with interactions you’ve had with the staff? Do you feel like they are your partners in this situation?  Most importantly, seek the recommendation from people you trust, your doctor or friends who have gone to the Center.

7. Financial Considerations have you frightened

Financial considerations may overwhelm you. Many insurance companies offer some degree of coverage, even if it is only for your initial diagnostic evaluation. It is always a good idea to speak with your insurance company and find out what your coverage actually is.

CACRM offer many financial options for couples without insurance benefits. We recommend that you call and schedule a private, individual consultation with our Financial Manager (mrodriguez@cacrm.com ).

8. In Vitro Fertilization is often not the first option

Many patients will begin with “low tech” treatment (such as Clomid with or without Intrauterine insemination), achieve a pregnancy and never have a need for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Others because of their diagnosis, blocked fallopian tubes or advanced age, will have to go straight to IVF or Donor Egg to help them conceive.

Patients who go to CACRM are not typically “pushed” into IVF. Lori Arnold, MD will take a stepped care approach to balancing your chances for success and the simplicity of the procedure. While IVF offers outstanding success rates, it may not be necessary.

9. IVF is not experimental and the incidence of high-order multiple births are decreasing

Over the past 25 years, In Vitro Fertilization technology and experience have greatly improved, affording many more couples the ability to conceive. In fact, over millions of healthy babies have been born from IVF since Louise Brown was born in 1978. Over the year, delivery rates have tripled. The introduction of Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) in 1992, has almost eliminated the need for donor sperm, thus allowing infertile men to have their own biological child. The technology has advanced to the point that fewer but healthier embryos are now implanted, thus decreasing the risk of multiple, high-risk pregnancies.

10. Know the odds

When you are going through any low-tech treatment it is important to understand that your chances for pregnancy are most likely going to be optimized by 3-6 treatment cycles. If this is not successful, and if no new information has been found to help improve the current treatment plan, then it is time to move on to the next option. For example, if you have been taking Clomid for 4-6 months or more without success, it may be time to consider your next steps, especially if you are over the age the age of 35. Your fertility specialist can guide you as to when it is best to consider new options.