The incidence of infertility seems to be rising in both males and females. However, no one knows if there are actually more infertile people or if public awareness has stimulated more physician visits for infertility. Regardless, it seems that approximately 11% of couples of reproductive age will experience some degree of infertility in one, or both partners.
Infertility is characterized as primary or secondary. Primary means that a child has never been carried to term and secondary is the inability to produce subsequent children after a successful pregnancy. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse in females less than thirty-five years of age. The time for women over thirty five is reduced to six months reflecting the need for rapid evaluation and treatment.
Treatments and outcomes vary dependent upon the cause(s) of the couples’ infertility, the female’s age, the male’s sperm quality and many other factors. Male infertility is also much more common than previously believed being present in up to half of all infertile couples. Sperm disorders include 1. low count (not enough sperm to swim to an fertilize an egg) poor sperm quality such as misshapen heads, the inability to swim in straight lines, genetic disease, poor semen quality and others.
Fortunately, treatments such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection make it possible for men with little or no sperm in their ejaculate to father children. Infertility can be physically and emotionally devastating, especially if the appropriate treatments are not received early in therapy. It is critical that an evaluation be performed by a fertility specialist in older women as soon as possible.
Many complex factors influence a couple’s ability to have children and fertility can decline rapidly as the female ages. It is also important to devote personal, financial, and insurance resources to the procedures most likely to result in a healthy baby.
Many women have chosen to delay childbearing until they establish their careers and many are marrying later. A high percentage of women seeking infertility therapy are aged in their mid thirties. This is because infertility increases in these age groups and women are strongly urged to monitor their fertility as they delay childbearing. Many times a routine FSH hormone test can point to declining ovarian reserve.
The good news is that approximately 80% of all couples seeking fertility treatment will achieve pregnancy with appropriate therapy. Percentages for individual couples vary dependent upon the causes of their infertility and other factors. Many studies demonstrate that early treatment by a reproductive endocrinologist increases the chance of conception and lowers overall treatment costs.
Some medical conditions require immediate consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist. These include tubal disease, severe endometriosis, significant reduction in ovarian function, and deformities such as polyps or fibroids in the uterus, advanced age, a history of pelvic inflammatory disease, hormonal abnormalities, or serious sperm deficiencies.
Early consultation provides the best chance for pregnancy success. Dr. Borkowski has extensive clinical experience diagnosing and treating infertility. Both physicians also completed infertility fellowships. They both rule out all potential causes of infertility before beginning any therapy. Specific treatments are selected based on the individual couple’s needs and not everyone requires advanced assisted reproductive technologies. We always choose the treatment most likely to result in pregnancy while considering each couple’s individual needs.