The increasing frequency of infertility (sterility) nowadays does not prevent the dream of having a child. By investigating the underlying causes of infertility and seeking help from a fertility specialist, you can undergo the necessary treatment, such as IVF, to achieve your goal. Medical Park Karadeniz Hospital’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialist, Dr. Ufuk Yılmaz, answered all the questions related to infertility (sterility) and its treatment methods, which are becoming more common nowadays:
What is infertility?
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive despite regular unprotected sexual intercourse for one year. Nowadays, the inability to have children is one of the biggest concerns for couples. The frequency of infertility in the community is around 15%.
Factors that hinder or complicate couples from having children include:
In approximately 35% of couples, there is a problem with the male partner, while in about 45% of couples, the female partner is affected. In 15-20% of infertile couples, no problem can be identified in either partner, which is referred to as unexplained infertility. In 45-50% of couples, both partners have fertility issues.
Fertility is at its maximum in the 20s, especially after the age of 32, it starts to decline. Due to changes in social life, women nowadays delay their childbearing age.
Other causes of infertility in women include blocked fallopian tubes, ovulation disorders (PCOS), decreased egg reserve, and uterine fibroids or intrauterine adhesions.
The most common causes of male infertility are low sperm count, slow sperm motility, or the absence of sperm. Sometimes there may be deformities in sperm cells, or they may die before reaching the egg.
In addition, smoking and an irregular lifestyle are also among the reasons for not being able to have children.
Does stress and obesity affect fertility?
Stress is not a significant factor in infertility cases, but some scientific studies suggest that it may have a 5% impact. Stress can disrupt the release of hormones responsible for pregnancy, affecting egg formation and development or ovulation hormones.
Obesity is a common problem today and although it does not directly reduce fertility, the excess release of female hormones from fat tissue can suppress ovulation and indirectly make it difficult to conceive. The more excess weight, the less ovulation. If one is close to the obesity limit, it can reduce fertility by up to 50%.
Do sexually transmitted diseases have an effect on infertility?
Due to the increasing prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, blockages can occur in the tubes in women and the channels in men. When there is a blockage in the tubes, there will be a blockage in the pathways where fertilization occurs, and pregnancy cannot occur as the sperm cannot meet the egg.
What tests are performed for couples experiencing any problems with having children?
Firstly, it is essential to determine the cause of infertility. Hormone tests performed on the second or third day of the menstrual cycle, HSG (Hysterosalpingogram) to obtain information about the uterus and tubes, and a spermogram for men are the main tests that should be done initially.
How would you suggest a treatment method for couples who have no problems in their tests but are unable to have children?
If no problem is detected, but the couple is unable to conceive, ovulation induction treatments (OI) are applied as the first step. These treatments usually last between 3-6 months, and egg development is induced in women. Then, an ovulation trigger injection is administered, and recommended days for intercourse are given. The success rate is around 10-12%.
What is intrauterine insemination (IUI)?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a treatment method preferred for patients who have completed simple treatments or have a low sperm count and cannot have children through regular means. In short, it is the process of collecting sperm from the male partner, processing it, and delivering it into the woman’s uterus through a thin catheter. The success rate is between 15-18%.
SHORT-TERM TREATMENTS ARE PREFERRED
What is in vitro fertilization (IVF)?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a treatment method applied to women who cannot get pregnant using conventional methods. It is based on the principle of transferring embryos formed as a result of combining male (sperm) and female (egg) germ cells under laboratory conditions into the uterus. Fertilization is achieved by in vitro fertilization or with the help of an embryologist, by injecting a single sperm into a single egg (microinjection). Later, these embryos formed from eggs and sperms are transferred to the mother’s uterus.
How long does the IVF treatment take, and how does the process work?
The duration of IVF treatments varies depending on the treatment method used, and it can range from 15 days to 2 months. Nowadays, shorter treatments are preferred, and they usually last between 15-20 days.
For treatment, the necessary tests are completed first. These tests may vary from patient to patient. After the test process, the most suitable treatment protocol for the couple is determined, and the treatment is explained to the couple. Ovaries are stimulated with medication, and then the egg collection procedure is performed, preferably under anesthesia. The collected eggs are combined with sperm, and the resulting embryos are monitored. When the appropriate time comes, usually within 3-5 days after fertilization, the embryos are transferred to the patient.
What is intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)?
ICSI, or microinjection, is the process of injecting a single sperm into the egg taken from the ovaries using very fine needles under laboratory conditions to achieve fertilization.
IVF BABIES DEVELOP AS HEALTHY AS NORMAL BABIES
Does the IVF procedure have any negative effects on the development of babies?
Studies have shown that there is no difference in the likelihood of anomalies between babies conceived with this method and babies conceived naturally.
Finally, do you have anything you would like to say to your patients?
Our patients should never lose hope. An appropriate treatment method will always be determined for them. However, it should be noted that child treatments should never be delayed. Our patients who desire to have children should not waste too much time with the ‘it will happen someday’ mentality and should start treatment in expert hands. I wish all our readers healthy days.