Frequently Asked Questions
- Are my problems unique?
The most recent estimates indicate infertility affects about 10% of the population during their childbearing years. The most rapid decline in fertility potential among women occurs from age 35.
- Am I sterile?
Sterility is rare. In a large UK survey only 2.4% of women aged 40–55 years reported unresolved infertility with no pregnancies over their reproductive years. Further 1.9% never gave birth despite achieving pregnancy. For most couples, expectations of a successful pregnancy are realised even if a little help is needed along the way.
- Who should I confide in?
Your first thought may be to keep details of your fertility treatment private. It’s a reasonable expectation given how stressful and invasive tests can be. But there are many good reasons to also reach out for support. Discover why you should share your feelings while you’re undergoing treatment.
- What affects the quality of sperm?
Semen quality and quantity may affect the ability of sperm to successfully fertilize the egg. Sperm movement is an important factor. Even with a low sperm count, men who have highly mobile or ‘motile’ sperm may still be fertile.
- How long should I be on clomiphene citrate therapy?
Clomiphene will induce ovulation in about 80% of properly selected patients. About 40% to 45% of women receiving clomiphene citrate will become pregnant within six cycles. Most authorities suggest that clomiphene be given for no more than six cycles, because the chance of success is much less after six cycles. After that, alternatives may be considered.
- Do all fertility treatments involve ‘high-complexity’ experimental procedures?
No. Many couples are successful in their attempts to conceive using relatively simple, `low-complexity´ procedures. Most of the major ART procedures, like In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) are now established medical treatments and are no longer considered investigational or experimental.
- How successful are fertility treatments?
Improvements in medication, microsurgery and Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) make pregnancy possible for a majority of the couples pursuing treatments. In particular, success rates have dramatically improved for couples requiring ART. A Danish study from 2009 found that within five years of starting ART treatment, almost 70% of couples had succeeded in having at least one child. It’s important to remember however that the success rate for fertility treatment is not absolute. The outcome will be different for every individual couple and clinic.
- Are there side effects associated with the use of hormonal therapies?
Clinical studies have shown that hormonal therapies have a good safety profile. However, as with all prescription medications, there are possible side effects. Your doctor will discuss any potential effects and monitor your response to therapy. Remember to report all symptoms to your doctor.
- What should we do if the treatment we’re presently undergoing doesn’t work?
Modern medicine offers a number of infertility treatment options of different complexity. If your initial treatment is not working, discuss with your doctor when is the right time to seek help in a specialized fertility clinic. Read more about possible treatment options available.
- My partner has no problems with ejaculation. Doesn’t that prove he’s fertile?
Some men may have a very low sperm count, low sperm motility or poor-quality sperm and still ejaculate. In some cases, ejaculate may contain no sperm at all. There’s no way of knowing what ejaculate contains, unless it’s analysed in a laboratory.
- What causes female fertility problems?
Fertility problems in women can take many forms, including ovulatory or hormonal disorders, anatomical irregularities, chromosomal disorders and other causes that remain unexplained. One common problem that lies at the root of many causes is age. The fertility potential of women declines rapidly from the age of 35. Read about the impact of age on the reproductive system.
- What causes male fertility problems?
The major cause of infertility in men is the failure to produce enough healthy sperm. Azoospermia (a complete absence of sperm in the semen) and oligospermia (in which too few sperm are produced) both cause infertility. Sperm abnormalities, sperm antibodies or anatomical factors may also cause fertility problems. Learn more about the male reproductive system and conception difficulties.
- What tests should I expect if I go to see a doctor?
Your doctor will typically begin with the simplest and least invasive tests like palpation, blood and sperm test and ultrasound. If the cause is not immediately identified, more complex tests may be scheduled. Find out more about fertility tests and treatments.
- How established are Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)?
The first baby conceived with the help of ART was born in the United Kingdom in 1978. Her name is Louise Brown. She gave a birth to her son in 2006 without ART. Every doctor and clinic will have a different level experience with ART. Make sure you’re comfortable with your clinic choice before starting treatment.
- Sometimes I feel that my partner seems detached from the process we’re going through. Is this a normal male reaction?
Men and women are different. They communicate differently; they deal with emotions differently and solve problems differently. Chances are, his feelings are just as deep as yours, but he processes them differently. Being aware of these differences you can help you avoid misunderstandings and enable you to experience your treatment journey as a team. Use the Fertility Compass to discover your coping style and ask your partner to do the same. Discussing your results may help you understand each other better and find the way to work together as a team.
1. Boivin J et al, International estimates of infertility prevalence and treatment seeking: potential need and demand for infertility medical care. Hum Reprod. 2007;22: 1506-1512. 2. Practice Committee Report. Aging and infertility in women: a committee opinion Fertil Steril 2002;78:215-219. 3. Oakley L et al. Lifetime prevalence of infertility and infertility treatment in the UK: results from a population-based survey of reproduction. Hum Reprod 2008;23(2):447-450. 4. Medications for Inducing Ovulation. A Guide for Patients. ASRM 2006; http://www.asrm.org/Patients/patientbooklets/ovulation_drugs.pdf 5. Pinbourg A et al, Prospective longitudinal cohort study on cumulative 5-year delivery and adoption rates among 1338 couples initiating infertility treatment. Hum Reprod.2009;24: 991-999.