Infertility can be physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially taxing. Chances are you know a family member or friend who has had to experience this strain. Sadly, as many as one in eight couples are affected by this inability to conceive a child.
Thankfully several fertility treatment options can be pursued, depending on what the cause of infertility is. Some cases can be overcome through the use of certain medications and minor surgeries to correct defects.
Another highly effective fertility treatment option you may have heard of is in vitro fertilization (IVF). It involves creating embryos in a lab using retrieved egg and sperm from the couple before the embryo is placed in the uterus for implantation to occur.
Despite the time, money, and physical stress of such treatments, it is all worth it if you get to hold your baby in your arms. But the path to parenthood can hold more obstacles than is often talked about. Here are a few issues you need to be aware of when deciding if this is the solution for your infertility concerns.
Getting a referral can be a major problem for couples as there is a time limit on fixing fertility problems, especially for a woman. Many doctors take their time referring their patients to specialists, especially when the couple already has at least one child. This is referred to as secondary infertility where a couple that has already had a child will struggle for another year having regular unprotected sex without result.
Family and friends can also end up discouraging the couple, telling them to be grateful for the child they already have. However, if having more than the child you have is your heart’s desire, then do not allow yourself to be held back.
There is often the assumption that natural conception will take place, delaying much-needed treatment. It can add to the stress of the situation and make conception even harder for older women. Any woman over the age of 35 years should more aggressively seek to consult with a specialist if she feels she is facing unnecessary delay.
As said, age is an important factor when it comes to fertility in women. Men can afford to play the waiting game if they do not mind being an older parent, but for women, the clock really is ticking if you want your own biological child. women reach their fertility peak before the age of 30. So, be aware that it all goes downhill from that point. Not to mention that being an older mother puts your child at greater risk of having chromosomal abnormalities.
It is important to discuss your fertility concerns with your doctor sooner rather than later. Even if you are getting older and not yet ready to have a family, you can consider options like harvesting and freezing eggs. IVF fertility treatments can help address this problem by allowing a woman to store healthy eggs early on and later use them when she is ready to have a child. The treatments also incorporate genetic screening to determine which embryos are healthy and those that are not.
Gender selection is a major concern for some families. There are genetic conditions that are more likely to be passed down through offspring of a particular gender. This makes it preferable for some couples to want children of the other. It could also be that family balancing is desirable. Some couples may end up having more children of just one gender and want to balance out that representation. Gender selection during IVF allows such parents to achieve family balancing through the scientific method.
However, some people believe that this means interfering with nature or God’s plan. Many couples avoid raising these issues outside of their doctor’s office because of the controversy it can stoke. In some countries, the practice has been banned due to cultural biases that have seen female infanticide skyrocket. In the US, gender selection is permitted. The gender of the embryos can be determined during genetic tests, allowing couples to define the composition of their family with certainty.
Odds May Be Better Abroad
Some fertility specialists try to maintain an upbeat persona that can often be misleading to couples. Patients are dazzled by albums of baby pictures from successful couples, they easily come to believe they will quickly achieve their dream the same way. In reality, the success rate of IVF treatments in the US is about 37.8%. This means just one in three couples are successful with each round of IVF treatment.
Curiously, the average is higher in many other parts of the world. The global average hovers at about 50%, while some countries like Thailand are estimated to have a success rate of around 60%. This means that you may have better chances if you opt to look further afield for a fertility clinic.
Intimacy Is Not the Same
When a couple is suffering from infertility, intimacy suffers a major blow. There is often a decline in sex drive for both partners as the entire focus becomes about timing encounters right. Sex becomes just about procreation and no longer about having fun and sharing closeness.
The lack of drive has also been attributed by some to disappointing outcomes. Whether it is timing ovulation or giving a sample for IVF, the would-be parents may feel they are disappointing their partner and families with each failed attempt. Many women can also be negatively affected by the hormone medications that impact their mood and interest in sex. The only comfort is that once the treatments are over the couple can work towards rebuilding intimacy in their union.
Every embryo that couples work towards creating when undergoing IVF represents the hope of a new life coming into the family. Unfortunately, this treatment requires making several embryos to select the healthiest for implantation. Once the couple is successful, one of the issues that need addressing is what to do with the leftover embryos.
While the couple may opt to have them destroyed, it may be worthwhile considering freezing them if you want more kids later. You could also donate them to another infertile couple or for scientific research, depending on what your local laws allow. Many of the fertility treatments today are thanks to research that was done on embryos in the past.