Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Tech Take on Making Babies

Only couples who face infertility know exactly how much pain they go through to gain the baby they want. Most will have tried every possible treatment under the sun just to hear those three little words- “You are Pregnant”. Most people don’t even give a second thought to whether they will be able to have a baby or not, because they assume it’s something that will happen automatically, once they stop using contraceptives and have regular sex.

Most people don’t know that there is a wide spectrum of methods to get pregnant and that sometimes just having unprotected sex doesn’t make the cut. This post is for all those couples out there who are trying to have a baby and need to know the different ways in which they can have one; and how baby making options can go from the natural end of the scale to the high-tech end.

•    Have Unprotected Sex- Discard the contraceptives and have lots of baby making sex. Most couples don’t have any trouble conceiving naturally; but don’t get too ambitious or complacent- you need to set a time limit, which is typically a year if the woman is under 35 years; and 6 months if she is over 35 years.  Anyone over 35 should be seeing an IVF specialist if they haven’t got pregnant in 6 months of trying.

•    Use an Ovulation Monitor- If after a few months of unprotected sex, you are still not pregnant, but still don’t think you want to consult a specialist, try  to use an ovulation monitor to time sex for the most fertile times. Most chemists will have these monitors and they are available over-the-counter. Ovulation test sticks are the most common and these detect high LH levels (luteinizing hormone, that triggers the egg release from the ovary), in urine.

Even as you do this, don’t rule out the possibility of male infertility. If you feel that you have been trying for too long and are still not pregnant, consult an IVF specialist without delay. The doctor will carry out tests and will be able to determine whether there is a male factor infertility issue or whether it’s related to the woman.

•    Medication- Clomiphene citrate or Clomid is a relatively inexpensive medication that is typically used for patients who have irregular cycles because of anovulation.
In most instances, this medication is used in combination with Intrauterine Insemination with sperm which has been washed in the lab to enhance its fertilizing potential.

•    High-tech Drugs- There are a number of injectable hormonal drugs which can boost ovulation. These are typically used in an IVF cycle; however they are also very effective for women who do not ovulate as well as for ones who have unexplained infertility. These contain the hormones , FSH & LH.

•    IVF- Today, In Vitro Fertilization is the ultimate high-tech infertility treatment, which allows us to bypass all fertility hurdles. We stimulate the follicles with superovulating drugs; the eggs are then retrieved from the woman’s ovaries before ovulation and they will be fertilized with the sperm in a Petri dish. The resulting embryo/s are then transferred in the uterus.

Taking IVF Tech One Step Further

There are some adjuncts that are used in IVF:

•    ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection)- This is used when the man has an extremely low sperm count or zero sperm count. A single sperm is retrieved from the semen or the testes or the epididymis. It is then injected into the egg using a micromanipulator.

•    IVM (In vitro maturation)- This is still quite a new technique and is used in patients who have polycystic ovaries (they produce multiple immature eggs in one cycle). In this technique, we remove the eggs from the ovaries, they are then “ripened” in the IVF lab before they are fertilized.

•    PGD- Preimplantation genetic diagnosis)-  In this technique it is possible to test the embryos for genetic problems even before we transfer them in IVF. This procedure is typically used in couples who are aware that they carry a gene for genetic disorders such as sickle cell disease or  cystic fibrosis.

As you can see, when we treat infertility, we have a wide variety of different tools and options we can use to help our patients get pregnant.

Need more information? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at so that I can guide you better!

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