When Is The Best Time To See A Fertility Specialist?
It is recommended that a couple sees a fertility expert for assessment after one year of trying and if all the tests are reassuring that they try for the second year.
At that stage, if the couple has still not conceived, the best way to achieve a pregnancy, irrespective of age, is through IVF treatment. This does not mean that the couple cannot and will not conceive naturally, and many still do, but it is a more active way of moving forward and with proven efficacy.
Investigations can be performed at an earlier stage if there are suspected problems. If the tests reveal blocked Fallopian tubes, significant endometriosis, and/or low numbers of poorly motile sperm then IVF is recommended without further delay.
What Does IVF Involve?
IVF involves mixing eggs and sperm together in the laboratory (IVF) or the injection of a single sperm into a single egg (ICSI) to encourage fertilisation. It is a very successful process but not perfect. If couples do struggle to conceive and require IVF the chances of success fall with advancing female age and more so from 35.
Most couples require several attempts of IVF for each pregnancy, but interestingly many couples who go on to have unsuccessful IVF at this stage fall pregnant naturally in the months that follow.
Are Some Women More Fertile Than Others And Have More Time?
Are Others Less Fertile And Need To Start The Whole Process Even Earlier?
The answer to both questions is, of course, yes and so the next logical question is: are there any tests to measure these differences?
There are tests to predict how a woman is likely to respond to the drugs used to stimulate the ovary in IVF, and to some degree how successful the treatment will be as there is a link between the number of eggs collected and the chance of having a baby.
These tests were developed for IVF prediction therefore and not to assess a woman’s fertility - but people are increasingly using them to advise women whether delaying childbearing is sensible or not and to predict when the menopause may occur. There are no robust studies to support such predictions and women and healthcare practitioners should be cautious in interpreting and extrapolating facts from studies predominantly undertaken in infertile women. Age, or more specifically female age, is the overriding factor for most couples and something we cannot ignore.
Source: Independent UK