The majority of couples, and even singles, will often envision themselves becoming parents at some point in their lives. Modern lifestyles have however resulted in more people waiting longer to start building a family. Even for those that do start early, there may be certain health problems that may hinder their ability to procreate.
Infertility is a widespread problem that afflicts as much as one in four couples in developed nations. However, thanks to science, there are ways many forms of infertility in both men and women can be addressed, allowing couples to achieve their desire of getting pregnant and having healthy babies.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of the most effective forms of assisted reproduction that can address various forms of infertility and help hopeful parents become successfully pregnant with healthy babies. This treatment can take several weeks or longer for a cycle to be completed and often tends to be expensive.
For those planning on having children someday, the question might be, how will I know if I need IVF. To answer this, let us look at who should consider IVF.
Who should consider IVF?
IVF is an advanced assisted reproduction technology that is often a last resort solution. This means a couple may have been trying for a long time to conceive naturally, hence the need for medical intervention, which your doctor may suggest IVF.
So, the first consideration should be age. It is generally recommended that women under the age of 35 who have tried to get pregnant through unprotected regular sex for at least a year visit their doctor for help. This often results in a referral to a fertility specialist or gynecologist who will evaluate them for infertility. For women over the age of 35, this referral should be done after having tried to naturally but unsuccessfully conceive for six months. Women that want to get pregnant after the age of 40 years should immediately seek medical assistance.
The woman’s age is more important as the quality of her eggs will decline faster the older she is, and the eventuality of menopause. Eggs taken from older women tend to have an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities, which can increase the risk of miscarriage. The earlier a woman seeks IVF treatment, the better the chances that healthy eggs can be retrieved and used to make healthy embryos. Sperm quality can also decline with age, but this happens slower than with women.
During IVF treatment, however, both the male and female partners or contributors will be evaluated to ensure their sperm and eggs are of good quality. If there is a problem with sperm number, shape, and motility, the male partner may need to undergo treatment to improve the situation. The same goes for any physical condition that may interfere with the woman’s egg quality and ovulation. Problems with the fallopian tubes and uterus may also interfere with how the eggs meet the sperm and implantation.
If you have been trying to get pregnant naturally and proven unsuccessful, then you need to consult a specialist. From here, the doctor can then evaluate the likelihood of infertility and discuss what interventions can be used to address them. Like any other medical issues, these problems may be solvable using medications or surgery.
If you are still unable to get pregnant naturally after these treatments, you may need IVF treatment. There should be less of a delay in deciding this if the woman is older due to the problem of declining egg quality. The earlier you can retrieve eggs, the better your chances of success.
Cost may also be another issue to consider. IVF treatments can be pretty expensive. In the US, treatment can range between $10,000-$15000 per cycle. You can often cut this cost by half or more by traveling to less expensive destinations for treatment like Thailand. However, note that laws governing such treatments can widely vary based on the jurisdiction, so it is essential to make inquiries.
Even at half the cost in the US, IVF is still expensive for most people, hence the reason many wait longer to save up for it. It often takes more than one IVF cycle to get successfully pregnant, with about half of women getting pregnant after at least three cycles.
How do I know if I need IVF?
The best way to determine if IVF is a treatment you will need is to have you and your partner checked to determine if you have any infertility issues. This will be even more vital; the older you are as egg and sperm quality will often decline as you age. This can result in poor-quality embryos, which the body can reject, leading to failed implantation or miscarriage.
If there are fertility issues, your doctor can start to address them immediately, so you have better chances of conceiving if you decide to wait longer to have a baby. Blocked fallopian tubes and polycystic ovary syndrome are among the medical conditions that can affect female fertility and can benefit from IVF intervention.
Some problems can also be revealed later during IVF treatment, such as when retrieving eggs and sperm to have them screened. In cases where the eggs or sperm are not viable, your doctor may recommend using a donor for healthy reproductive material.
Your doctor will be best placed to advise you on whether IVF treatment should be considered, given the condition of your reproductive material and uterus. Keep in mind that some fertility problems may not be treatable, and to have a baby, the couple may have to consider donors or even the use of a surrogate mother.
The earlier you can ascertain your reproductive health condition, the sooner you can address any problems and increase your chances of successfully having a healthy baby later.
If you decide to wait longer to have a child and are determined that it be biologically yours, you may want to discuss with your doctor about freezing your eggs until you are ready. This can help reduce the risk of age-related fertility issues ,like an increased likelihood of chromosomal abnormalities caused by poor egg quality or sperm.