A: Approximately 40% of infertility challenges are the result of female-specific factors and 40% is due to male factors. The remaining 20% of cases are either a result of both partners or for unknown reasons. Consequently, when seeking help, both male and female partners should be evaluated.
A: Male factors can include azoospermia (absence of sperm cells) and oligospermia (low production of sperm cells), malformed sperm cells, and a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis or a chromosomal abnormality.
A: Female infertility factors are many and can include ovulation disorders, blocked fallopian tubes, which can occur when a woman has had pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis, and congenital abnormalities involving the structure of the uterus and uterine fibroids.
A: In IVF, eggs are surgically aspirated from the ovary and mixed with sperm outside the body in a Petri dish. After about 20 hours, the eggs are examined to see if they have become fertilized by the sperm and are dividing into cells. These fertilized eggs, known as embryos, are then placed in the women’s womb (uterus), thus bypassing the fallopian tubes.
A: No. The majority of infertility conditions (85-90%) can be resolved with conventional treatment such as ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs, with and without intrauterine insemination (IUI) or surgical repair of damaged reproductive organs. For women who have blocked or absent fallopian tubes, or for men who have low sperm counts, IVF offers a chance of building a family for couples who would otherwise have had no hope of having a “biologically related” child. IVF accounts for less than 5 percent of all infertility treatment in the United States.
A: Advances in reproductive medicine, such as ultrasound-guided embryo transfer, allow physicians to transfer the smallest number of embryos possible resulting in a lower risk of multiple births.
A: Yes. Diminished ovarian reserve is one of the major causes of infertility in women. According to data from the centers for disease control (CDC), approximately 7% of married women are infertile by age 30; 11% have infertility issues by age 35; 33% by age 40; and, 87% at age 45. In addition, recent research indicates that men, too, may experience a decline in fertility with age.
A: Yes. According to the National Survey of Family Growth, more than one million couples experience “secondary infertility. ”A previously fertile partner may be trying to have a child with a new spouse, or one or both partners in an existing relationship may have developed fertility problems since their last child was conceived. Example of factors that may result in this difficulty include endometriosis, which is one of the most frequent causes of secondary infertility in women, natural aging, irregular ovulation, or fallopian tube disease. Or, a man might have had a decline in the concentration or motility of his sperm.
A: For women, body fat within normal range (20 to 24 BMI) is very important in ensuring that the reproductive system functions normally. If the body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of body fat, is too low or too high, it can adversely affect the ability to conceive. Women at particular risk include those with eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, and women on a very low-calorie or restrictive diet. Strict vegetarians also may experience infertility problems due to a lack of important nutrients such as vitamin B-12, zinc, iron and folic acid. On the other hand, women with a BMI in the high 30s should consider losing weight to increase their chances of a safe pregnancy.
A: Infertility often creates one of the most distressing life crises a couple has faced. The long-term inability to conceive a child can evoke significant feelings of loss. Coping with the multitude of medical decisions and the uncertainties that infertility brings can create great emotional upheaval for most couples. Many couples experience anxiety, depression, and feelings of being out of control or isolated.
A: A healthy balanced diet is always important. Removing certain things from the diet, (e.g., caffeine, white flour, white sugar, white corn, white rice, etc.), may improve ovulation and regularity of the menstrual cycle. Foods that are broken down quickly raise insulin levels too quickly and disrupt delicate hormonal values in the ovaries causing more testosterone to be produced, impairing egg quality and thus possibly lowering the chance of conception. In some women, high insulin levels may cause irregular ovulation, irregular periods, or endocrine disorder such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
A: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourages pregnant women to engage in regular, moderate intensity physical activity to continue to derive the same associated health benefits during their pregnancies as they did prior to their pregnancies in the absence of pregnancy complications.
Moderate intensity exercise refers to a level of exertion where the heart rate is raised to a level where one is working and breaking a sweat but is still able to carry on a conversation. It is recommended to engage in moderate intensity activity for 30 minutes daily.
We recommend moderate activity exercise during fertility treatments with the following caveats:
Activity during fertility treatment cycles: Only low-impact, low to moderate intensity activity is advised to protect the ovaries from excessive movement which can lead to twisting or torsion. Examples of acceptable activities include resistance training, group exercise (low options), swimming, yoga (no inversions), Pilates and spin (cycling) while staying seated. Activities to avoid include running, high impact group fitness (kickboxing, high impact aerobics) elliptical and cross-fit.