Fertility Treatments: Myth Vs. Truth
Prevention and Treatment Many couples are waiting until later in life to have children. While this may be economically benefitial, biology will often have something different to say.
Dr. Clifford Librach of the CReATe Fertility Centre in Toronto says the idea that you can put off fertility in women until any age is problematic.
The main fertility myth
“Age by far is the major factor for women in terms of the chance of successfully achieving a pregnancy,” he says.
As women age, there’s a significant change in their ovaries. There’s a higher chance for eggs to be abnormal, and the amount of eggs she has remaining drops over the years. There’s also a misconception that a doctor can fix that.
“We haven’t reached the point where we can take someone’s eggs who’s 42-years-old and make the eggs like they’re 25,” Librach says. “The good news is that the technology is definitely improving, and producing more successes, but it’s still limited by the biology.”
For men, sperm count in the general population is decreasing, though it’s still unclear why.
“Age by far is the major factor for women in terms of the chance of successfully achieving a pregnancy,”
How to improve your chances
First, it’s important to seek help as early as possible if you are not conceiving. Getting help early is especially important for women older than 35. Also for those women who have irregular periods, a prior sexually transmitted infection, endometriosis, or men who have had surgery on their testicles.
Next, it’s important to find someone in the medical field who is a fertility specialist, since they have additional training and expertise to diagnose and treat this condition. Once it’s determined what the issues may be, the specialist will suggest the best route to take from there.
The types of treatments range from prescribing medication that helps a woman ovulate or produce eggs, to more assisted reproduction like intrauterine insemination. Finally, there’s more advanced reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization (IVF), egg or sperm donation, and surrogacy.
Technology is creating new possibilities
There is new technology available such as the EmbryoScope®, which uses time-lapse imaging to monitor embryo development. The EmbryoScope® may allow fertility specialists to detect those embryos more likely to implant when undergoing IVF.There is also technology that offers pre-implantation genetic screening, which can screen for abnormal embryos that lead to miscarriage or conditions like Down Syndrome. “People who I couldn’t help 25 years ago, I can now help have children,” says Librach. “It’s so rewarding.”