Seeking fertility advice can be a big step if you do not know where to begin. At Conceptia, we are here every step of the way to ensure all your questions are answered.
It’s important to remember that there is no one fertility experience, as every patient’s needs are different. Around 1 in 6 trying to conceive encounter fertility challenges, but there are many options to help you in achieving your dreams of parenthood.
If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, discuss it with your family physician to get a referral to Conceptia. During your consultation at Conceptia, our team will work with you to develop a treatment plan best suited to your needs, in order to optimize your chances of conceiving.
When is it time to seek fertility help?
Many factors can impact fertility, and a fertility specialist can help you in assessing your needs and providing treatment options. The sooner you consult a specialist to get your issue diagnosed and treated, the better your chances of conceiving are.
You should consult a fertility specialist if you are a female and fit one of the following descriptions:
You are a female under the age of 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for at least 12 months.
You are a female over the age of 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for at least 6 months.
You experience irregular or very far apart menstrual cycle (outside of the regular 26 to 34 days cycle)
You have had a pelvic infection.
You have been diagnosed with endometriosis.
You have experienced more than two pregnancy losses. While many women that have had miscarriages subsequently have healthy pregnancies, pregnancy losses may be a sign of a fertility problem.
You suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (also known as PCOS). This condition is often undiagnosed before a person starts wanting to conceive, and its symptoms can include irregular periods, fat around the belly area, acne and hair thinning on your head. PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility.
You have a family history of early menopause, or otherwise are at risk of early menopause.
You have a history of infection (for instance, mumps), injury or surgery on your testicles, or have been diagnosed with a sperm problem.
Your partner and/or yourself have a known health problem that can impact your fertility, including diabetes, high blood pressure, or a history of cancer treated through chemotherapy or radiation.
You need assistance to have a child as you do not have access to sperm, eggs or a uterus.
Please note that having received proper vaccination against rubella and chickenpox is a prerequisite for all women who wish to receive fertility treatment at the clinic.
Causes for Fertility Challenges
Fertility challenges impact females and males alike, but a portion of the causes for fertility challenges remain unexplained. However, even if the cause can’t be diagnosed, we can still provide help.
Some of the most common causes of fertility challenges are listed below.
Age is a major cause of fertility issues. Gradually declining in the late 20s, fertility drops off after the age of 37. This is due to differences between aging and younger eggs, with aging eggs not fertilizing, implanting and responding to stimulation medications as well as younger eggs, and presenting an increased risk of miscarriages and chromosomal abnormalities in embryos.
Amenorrhea refers to the lack of menstrual periods. It is divided between two different types: primary amenorrhea is usually detected in females with no menstrual periods before the age of 16; secondary amenorrhea being diagnosed for females that may have previously menstruated, but experience an absence of menstrual periods for a period of 3-6 months or longer.
Endometriosis refers to the endometrial tissue growing outside the uterine cavity. Patients with endometriosis can experience fertility challenges, as the endometrial tissue may implant in the abdominal cavity and produce scar tissue, inflammation or adhesions binding the fallopian tubes, the ovaries, and the intestines together. In turn, these adhesions can reduce the chances of conception by affecting the pick-up of eggs by the fallopian tube or the egg release from the ovaries.
Getting pregnant is dependent on the production of a fertilizable egg each month, for which a complex series of steps must take place. A misstep in this series may prevent you from getting pregnant, which explains why ovulatory conditions are most frequently diagnosed cause of female infertility.
Those ovulatory conditions that can affect or prevent ovulation include the following:
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Hyperprolactinemia, the hyperproduction of a hormone suppressing ovulation and stimulating milk production
Low levels of fertility hormones (Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, FSH and LH)
Premature Ovarian Failure
Extreme weight change (loss or gain)
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and polycystic ovary disease (PCOD) are endocrine disorders, and one of the most common hormonal causes of challenges for women trying to conceive.
The egg production of women with PCOS and PCOD is affected by an imbalance in their hormone level. This has an incidence on their menstrual cycles, with some experiencing irregular ovulation (often less than eight cycles per year), while others can have multiple lengthy bleeding periods per month.
Described as a pregnancy lost in the first 20 weeks of gestation, 15-20% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage. The majority of miscarriages happen during the first trimester of pregnancy and increases with age, with a risk of over 50% for women over 45.
When a woman experiences more than one miscarriage, it is known as arecurrent pregnancy loss. There are multiple causes although the most common is an abnormal chromosome pattern in the embryo. Recurrent pregnancy losses may also be caused by uterine fibroids or shape abnormalities, genetic abnormalities, disorders in hormones, infections or immunological factors.
A quarter of fertility-challenged females learn that their fallopian tubes, which play a critical part in successful fertilization and pregnancy, are the cause. For these patients with tubal damage, innovative techniques offer a way to have healthy pregnancies.
For some patients, the causes of infertility challenges remain unexplained by common and identified factors – i.e. normal ovulation, semen, fallopian tubes and pelvic cavity. This is described as unexplained fertility, and depending on their age and length of infertility, lowers the chances of natural conception by 30%.
Your Conceptia physician may recommend advanced treatments such as IUI and IVF if your challenges are identified as unexplained infertility.
Around 2 to 5 cases of fertility problems are caused by issues with sperm, whose most common forms include Azoospermia (the absence of sperm in the ejaculate) or Oligo-astheno-teratospermia (OATS) (sperm of low concentration, reduced mobility and abnormal morphology.)
Apart from these conditions, the quantity and health of a male’s sperm can also be affected by nutrition, exercise and unhealthy habits (drinking, smoking, recreational drug use).