Fertility is no longer limited to relying on both partners to produce quality eggs and sperm. There are many cases where the fertility consultant may find that the pregnancy is not taking place due to a problem with the egg or sperm. It is common to find many couples who are not able to conceive purely due to poor quality egg or sperm. There are numerous other reasons for infertility as well, but this seems to be quite prevalent.
While the medical industry is not exactly sure why there is a sudden increase in infertility, it has been attributed to certain factors and lifestyle changes. Let us look at some of the general factors that could be responsible for the disturbing rise in infertility.
Air pollution: greater exposure to toxins and chemicals in the air. The quality of air in urban areas has reduced greatly with fewer plants and greenery and a high number of cars, generators and other machines that pollute the environment. The level of harmful toxins in the air has risen at an alarming rate. We breathe these toxins and chemicals every day, and it is affecting our health in many adverse ways. There is a rise in unexplainable diseases as well as many other dreaded diseases like cancer, which encourage due to the toxins we are breathing.
Carcinogens in our food, which in simpler terms means things in our food which are not good for us, this can be put more specifically as harmful or poisonous elements in our food. Yes, our food contains many ingredients that are not fit for human consumption. Some of these ingredients are added as cheaper alternative ingredients, while some of these are chemical taste enhancers or even colours to make the item appear more attractive. Processed foods are the ones we need to be more cautious about. This includes canned foods as well.
Foods manufactured with cheaper and harmful ingredients are precooked foods, semi-cooked foods or ready to cook foods.
In Vitro Fertilization process is a type of fertility treatment where fertilization takes place outside the body. It serves as a solution for various kinds of infertility. IVF has gained popularity over the last few decades due to the increase in infertility and the highly successful outcome of the treatment in treating these problems. IVF provides a solution for all kinds of infertility. Some of the more common conditions for infertility where IVF is very popularly used are:
While IVF is not limited to this list, it has shown very encouraging results for people suffering from the above conditions.
The female reproductive organs comprise mainly of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix and uterus. The ovaries contain follicles which are stimulated by the Follicle Stimulating Hormone. One egg matures and is released into the fallopian tubes. It is met in the fallopian tubes by the sperm. One sperm penetrates the egg and fertilises it. Conception is the first step to getting pregnant. As soon as the sperm meets the egg and penetrates it, it is the start of conception.
HOW IS AN EMBRYO FORMED?
Once this egg is fertilised by the sperm in the fallopian tube, it is known as an embryo. This embryo takes 3 to 4 days to travel to the uterus. In the meanwhile, the uterine lining thickens and prepares to receive the embryo. When the embryo reaches the uterus, it attaches itself to the uterus wall. This is called implantation.
Implantation bleeding: The first sign of pregnancy is implantation bleeding. When the embryo attaches itself to the uterine lining, it disrupts some blood capillaries which can lead to a bit of spotting or bleeding. Some women mistake implantation bleeding to be their period. However, implantation bleeding is very light and will only last for a day or two at the most. Not all women will get implantation bleeding, and only about 30% of the women will experience it.
Female fertility is understood as the proper functioning of the female reproductive organs and the ability of a woman to get pregnant. The quality of the female eggs and the age of the woman are important defining factors for female fertility.
A male body produces 12 billion sperm every month and releases around 300 million sperm every day. Male infertility, to a large extent, is related mainly to the sperm and the ability of the male reproductive organs to produce sperm and ejaculate them.
Unlike the female reproductive system where everything is contained within the abdominal area, in the male, all the reproductive organs are external. The male reproductive organs include the scrotum, testes, spermatic ducts, sex glands, and penis. The testes are contained in the scrotum and are the main organ which produces sperm and testosterone. The epididymis is the sperm storage area, which is located near the testes.
The ductus deferens, which is also called vas deferens, is a tube along which the sperm travels to the ejaculatory duct. The semen comes from the seminal vesicles and mixes with the sperm in the urethra. The function of the penis is to ejaculate the semen containing sperm into the female partner’s vagina.
Male infertility centres around two board regions, which are the inability to ejaculate sperm and poor sperm quality, which includes low sperm count.
The male may have issues with ejaculating sperm due to several reasons such as a blockage in the vas deferens, retrograde sperm, erectile dysfunction or any other such problems that prevent the sperm from mixing with the semen and being ejaculated into the female partner.
Poor quality sperm is a major issue. Among the males suffering from infertility, almost 80% of them suffer problems related to poor sperm quality. A low sperm count is when the number of sperm in the semen is below the number considered as the minimum requirement to make a woman pregnant. A normal man should have a sperm count of 100 million sperm per ml of semen. However, with all the environmental factors and lifestyle choices, an average sperm count has reduced to 40 million.
A sperm count of less than 15 million per ml of semen comes under the low sperm count category. With this kind of a sperm count, it is near impossible to impregnate a woman. A large percentage of the sperm die as soon as they enter the female partner’s cervix. Usually, the cervix has an acidic environment making it difficult for the sperm to survive. The semen is supposed to help the sperm by giving them an alkaline environment as well as some nutrition to help them survive for a few days till they find the egg.
When things do not normally happen as they are supposed to, then some help is required. Today medical science has delved deep into the realms of fertility. IVF has become popular due to the fact that it is a successful fertility treatment. IVF can be categorised as a four-step process which includes inducing ovulation, retrieving the eggs, fertilising the egg and sperm in the lab and embryo transfer.
It has helped numerous childless couples to get pregnant with their own child. In India, the concept of adoption or having someone else’s child is not very acceptable. Every family wants their own child as the bloodline is important. IVF helps families make this desire possible. Women with poor ovarian reserve or poor quality eggs and men with low sperm count or poor sperm quality are only able to have children through IVF treatment.
Savita and Arun had a case of multiple fertility problems. Savita was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome several years earlier. She also suffered from a thyroid problem and was very overweight. Quite a few attempts at losing weight with diet control, aerobics and yoga proved to be futile. Arun, on the other hand, suffered from a severe case of male infertility with low sperm count and poor sperm motility.
Dr Deepika at Medicover says, “Cases like Savita and Arun are not uncommon, and we see several patients every month who suffer from ovulation disorders coupled with other complications such as excessive insulin levels and thyroid problems. Low sperm count is the most common male infertility problem we encounter today. IVF, together with ICSI, is the most successful treatment that I strongly recommend which can help couples with these multiple complications to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy.”
IVF treatment at Medicover Fertility Clinic enabled Savita and Arun to get pregnant and have a healthy baby. This is just one among countless other happy IVF success stores that Medicover Patients have to tell.
During In Vitro Fertilization procedure:
One full cycle of IVF takes about 2-3 weeks. Sometimes these steps are split into different parts and the process might even take longer.
IVF Treatment opens the door for other fertility options. A majority of the women who are over the age of 40 suffer from poor quality eggs. As women age, the quality of the eggs deteriorates. Another major issue with women as they get older is the depleting ovarian reserve. Women have a fixed number of eggs in their ovaries. As each cycle progresses, it uses a certain number of eggs and the quota of eggs reduces. By the age of 40, a woman is more than halfway through her fertility years, which is between puberty to menopause and the number of eggs she has left is greatly diminished. Over and above that the quality of the eggs contained in her ovaries also weakens over time.
Donor Egg: Women who have poor quality eggs are usually not able to successfully conceive. A poor quality egg used in the IVF procedure usually forms a weak embryo which is not able to survive for long. Women who fail a number of IVF cycles due to poor quality eggs are usually advised by the doctor to use donor eggs. Since the embryo is going to be fertilised in the lab, the use of a donor egg becomes much easier and does not have any other special requirement.
Some men end up with poor sperm quality, which is usually due to strong medication or poor choice lifestyle habits. This can lead to a low sperm count and also poor quality sperm. Poor quality sperms as we discussed earlier, are defined by poor sperm morphology and sperm motility. Sperm morphology is the shape and size of the sperm. A male who has poor sperm morphology has a large percentage of abnormally shaped sperm. These sperm could have deformed heads, crooked tails, and short tails or even double tails. Sperm with a deformed head is not able to penetrate an egg by itself. Tail defects in the sperm inhibit its swimming capacity, and thus sperm with abnormal tails, short tails, crooked tails and double tails are not able to swim to the fallopian tubes to meet the egg.
The size of the sperm also makes a difference. Sperm that are very small are usually weak and not able to swim the distance; hence, small and underdeveloped sperm are not of much good. Sperm vitality have a major role to play in successful fertilisation. Sperm that are active are usually the ones that are able to swim to the fallopian tubes and reach the egg.
Sperm motility is the swimming capabilities of the sperm. Some sperm are very sluggish and have no movement at all. Some sperm are active but keep swimming around in circles, and these sperm will not get far but mostly remain where they are. Few sperm have progressive motility, which is the ability of the sperm to swim in a forward motion. These are the only sperm that can travel the required distance to the egg. A small quantity of well-shaped sperm with progressive motility greatly reduces the possibility of the female partner getting pregnant as the sperm are usually not able to find their way or give up along the way. Hence a larger quantity of good sperm is required for pregnancy.
Donor Sperms: When a male has a large percentage of poor quality sperm and especially if this condition is accompanied by low sperm count, doctors will invariably suggest the use of donor sperm. A couple who are already undergoing IVF treatment may find that their IVF cycle is not succeeding due to a weakness in the embryo caused because of the weak sperm. In these cases, doctors suggest that donor sperm is the best option.
Donor Embryo: Sometimes if the couple is getting on in years, it is quite possible that they might find that they have both poor quality eggs and sperm. This is a common occurrence in couples who have a frivolous lifestyle and unhealthy food habits. In this case, where both the egg and sperm quality are poor, the chances of a successful pregnancy are very low. Usually, an embryo formed from a poor quality egg and sperm is a weak embryo and may not survive beyond a few days. In the event that weak embryo does implant in the female partner’s uterus, the probability of a miscarriage is quite high. The best solution for a successful pregnancy in a case with weak sperm and egg is a donor embryo.
Many people are not sure what it means to use a donor egg or a donor sperm or even a donor embryo. A donor is an anonymous person who donates their egg or sperm to the donor bank where it is stored for future use by other needy people. When a couple is not able to conceive and requires a donor egg or sperm, they can get it from the donor bank. First, a profile match is done before issuing an egg or sperm. If a sperm is required, the characteristics and features of the male partner are matched with that of the donor. This is to ensure that the child resembles its parents as much as possible.
IVF treatment also makes surrogacy a very easy prospect. If a couple is struggling with multiple failed IVF cycles, the doctor may recommend using a surrogate mother. A surrogate mother is also highly recommended in cases where there are problems with the female partner’s uterus.
Uterus problems are not very common, but in some cases, a woman may have an abnormally shaped uterus like a heart-shaped uterus. A heart-shaped uterus will support the baby in the initial stages, but as it grows and requires more space, the abnormal shape of the uterus is not suitable and will probably lead to a miscarriage.
Some women have an unreceptive uterus, which does not support the embryo. The embryo cannot survive in this hostile environment and usually ends up not implanting or in a miscarriage.
A surrogate mother is a woman who will carry the baby to term for the couple with no genetic connection to the baby. Usually, the embryo is that of the parents, and the surrogate mother is only the host for the foetus.
There are many clinics and hospitals that offer IVF treatment in India. The success of the IVF treatment, ie. the IVF success rate depends largely on the quality of the treatment. The infrastructure of the hospital and how well the lab is equipped plays a major role in determining the IVF procedure success. IVF clinics that invest in modern medical infrastructure are able to provide a better quality service to their patients, like Medicover Fertility Clinic. Medicover is a European brand and offers patients medical treatment of an international standard. The clinics have been designed to cater to a global category of patients.
Medicover is one of the leading fertility clinics in Delhi and NCR area and has a very high success rate. Patients at Medicover Fertility Clinic enjoy the privilege of specialised patient care. Medicover has a panel of internationally certified full-time doctors. Latest technology fertility treatment with advanced facilities and equipment contributes significantly to the success of Medicover in the field of fertility treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q - How does IVF Improve Fertility?
A - IVF stands for in vitro fertilization. It's one of the more widely known types of assisted reproductive technology (ART). IVF works by using a combination of medicines and surgical procedures to help sperm fertilize an egg, and help the fertilized egg implant in your uterus.
Q - How effective is IVF at helping with Infertility?
A - IVF is an effective treatment for a variety of male and female infertility conditions. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), the average woman of reproductive age has increased chance of getting pregnant per IVF cycle, with even better pregnancy rates for younger women.
Q - How many IVF cycles does it take to get pregnant?
A - The cumulative effect of three full cycles of IVF increases the chances of a successful pregnancy. This is why NICE has recommended 3 IVF cycles as it is both the most cost-effective and clinically effective number for women under the age of 40.
Q - What is the best age for IVF?
A - The good news is that IVF is generally successful, especially for women under age 35.