The pain and heartache of not being able to conceive is a feeling that is experienced by many couples around the world. Despite months, perhaps even years of trying, they have not been blessed with a child. It is something that will inevitably cause tension within the household, with feelings of desperation and self-loathing common. However, for many couples, help is available in the form of various fertility treatments.
As a clinic specialising in IVF in Bangkok, at First Fertility, we meet hundreds of couples each year, all of whom have different concerns regarding fertility. We can provide them with the reassurance that they so desperately seek and emphasise treatments available. If you or your partner is struggling to conceive, you can take comfort that IVF treatment can help with most forms of infertility. Over the years, we have helped endless couples to conceive, and they all relish the joy a child can bring.
What is IVF treatment?
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is arguably the best known of all fertility treatments and commonly available worldwide. It involves the female’s ovaries being stimulated to produce more eggs than during her regular cycle. The eggs are then harvested in our clinic by one of our medical professionals. The male partner will be requested to provide a sperm donation, usually in the clinic, and then the eggs are fertilised artificially with sperm in the laboratory.
After fertilisation, the healthiest embryos, the fertilised eggs, are returned to the female’s uterus. Hopefully, the embryos will develop, and the pregnancy will be smooth in the same manner as if the pregnancy had occurred naturally. Typically, more than one of the fertilised eggs is used to enhance the chances of success, so there is an increased risk of multiple births.
Common reasons for needing IVF treatment
There are several reasons why IVF treatment may be right for you and your partner, with some of the most common reasons outlined below. Indeed, some of the issues may be very similar to your own situation and, therefore, be something you can relate to. However, if you don’t recognise any of the reasons, it doesn’t mean that IVF treatment won’t be appropriate. After your initial consultation and subsequent tests, the doctor will give you a diagnosis and suggest the best course of treatment for you.
Infertility caused by damage to the fallopian tubes
It is relatively common for women to have missing, scarred or damaged fallopian tubes, which can significantly impact her fertility. The damage may be caused by a previous infection, an accident, surgery, or something that she has had from birth. In many cases, she may not even be aware of the issue until she tries to conceive.
IVF is an excellent form of treatment in this scenario as effectively the fallopian tubes are bypassed, thus removing any potential complications. Indeed, IVF is usually far more effective than any corrective surgery, certainly regarding fertility. Of course, your doctor will be able to offer more information that will be tailored to your condition.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
It is not unusual for a woman to experience irregular periods, especially if she has been taking the “pill” for a substantial amount of time before trying to conceive. On the other hand, PCOS is a hormonal disorder with the female having higher than normal levels hormone levels, usually testosterone. It can cause irregular, infrequent or prolonged periods as the ovaries develop numerous follicles. As such, the regular cycle will be disrupted, although fortunately, IVF treatment has been proven to highly successful in these cases.
Between two and ten per cent of the female population are thought to suffer from endometriosis, an extremely painful condition caused by the lining the internal lining of the uterus growing outside rather than in the uterus. Many sufferers will find that the problem also affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes and even the pelvis, and in exceptional circumstances, it can spread beyond. Depending on the severity of your condition, IVF treatment can often be beneficial and prove to be successful.
All too often, we find that couples are very quick to assume that any fertility issues are down to the female partner. However, you may be surprised to learn that approximately 40% of infertility cases are due to a problem with the male partner. It may be that he has a low sperm count, his sperm are unusually shaped (morphology), or their movement may be impaired (motility). Regardless of the reason, IVF treatment can be proven to be hugely successful, with the healthiest sperm receiving a “helping hand” to reach the egg.
For genetic reasons
One common reason for otherwise fertile couples to choose IVF treatment is genetic reasons. They may be concerned that there is an elevated risk that their baby may be born with a hereditary condition, or it may be for gender selection purposes. In this scenario, Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) would be used in conjunction with IVF treatment to screen embryos for any abnormalities or to select the sex of the baby. It ensures that only healthy embryos or embryos of the desired sex are implanted.
Over recent decades, there has been an increasing trend for women wanting to start families later in life, often because they wish to pursue a career or they are starting long-term relationships later. Women can choose to freeze their eggs at a young age, when they are most fertile and use them, perhaps when they are in their mid-30s, to start a family. The eggs would be implanted in the same manner as with regular IVF treatment, and indeed, it has been hugely successful for many couples.
A word of warning
Any couple wishing to pursue IVF treatment must understand that there are no guarantees of success. They must be emotionally and physically prepared for what could be a rollercoaster ride. IVF treatment is also expensive, so couples should consider carefully whether it is something that they can realistically afford, especially if more than one course of treatment is required. Burdening yourself and your family with debt will bring pressures of its own, and perhaps alternatives should be investigated, such as adoption.