Tuesday October 4, 2016
Difficulty conceiving - Infertility
At London Doctors Clinic, many of our patients visit us seeking medical advice with regard to conception and fertility. It can be a long path to falling pregnant, and our GP's are happy to help at any stage along the way, from pre-pregnancy advice, private blood tests and screening. We're also happy to provide private specialist referrals to private fertility clinics, with whom we can work alongside providing fast blood testing, such as female hormone screens and beta-hCG blood tests with results available in just 4 hours!
Am I infertile?
Infertility is when a couple fails to conceive, in spite of participating in regular unprotected sex. Roughly 14% of couples, which is 3.5 million people in the UK face this problem. There are two types of infertility: primary infertility involves someone who has never experienced pregnancy in the past and has difficulty conceiving; secondary infertility involves someone who has had one or more pregnancies in the past but has difficulty conceiving again.
There are a range of different causes for infertility and why you may be struggling to get pregnant. However, for a quarter of couples a cause cannot be established. Our doctors run you through the most common the most common causes of infertility.
Common causes of infertility in both men and women:
is another factor which can negatively affect ovulation in females. Furthermore, being severely underweight can prevent ovulation altogether.
Male fertility can also be reduced due to being overweight.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Some STIs can lead to infertility, including chlamydia, which can affect both male and female fertility. If you're struggling to fall pregnant, it might be worth checking your sexual health as part of your infertility investigations.
Increased stress can lead to a reduced sex drive (libido), which can then affect your chances of conception as you have less regular sexual intercourse. Very high levels of stress can also affect ovulation in females or sperm production in males.
Obesity and stress can contribute towards infertility - leading a healthy lifestyle will increase your chances of conceiving naturally
Common causes of Infertility in women:
Ovulation is the release of an egg from your ovaries each month, and is a part of the normal menstrual cycle. Disturbances in ovulation is the most common cause of infertility. Some disorders can prevent the egg from releasing at all; whereas others can cause irregular release- so that ovulation is randomly skipped in some cycles. Some conditions involving ovulation malfunction include:
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Polycystic ovaries contain many immature follicles, which are unable to produce or release eggs. Symptoms of this condition include an irregular menstrual cycle, excessive hair growth and weight gain.
- Thyroid malfunctions: Ovulation is inhibited by both an overactive or underactive thyroid gland. We at LDC offer thorough thyroid function tests, which can be included in infertility investigations.
Fertility decreases as your age increases, with the most significant decrease being in your mid-thirties. For women who are 35 years of age, there is a 95% chance of pregnancy following unprotected regular sex for three years. This percentage is reduced to 75% in women trying at 38 years of age.
In endometriosis this disorder, the endometrium (lining of the womb) begins to grow in other foreign places, such as the ovaries. This can cause adhesions (bands of tissue clustered together) or cysts (fluid-filled sacs), which interfere with the egg’s release and implantation into the womb.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
This is an infection of the female upper genital tract, which is formed of the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries. This infection can injure and scar the fallopian tubes, preventing the egg from travelling into the womb.
Medicines and drugs
Certain medication can have side effects which affect your fertility. These include chemotherapy, antipsychotic drugs, long-term or high dose ibuprofen or aspirin. Illegal drugs such as cocaine and marijuana can also have severe effects on your fertility.
You may not realise, but some medications you take may have a negative impact on your fertility
Common causes of infertility in men:
Semen is the ejaculatory fluid which contains the sperm in men. Abnormal semen encompasses: low sperm count, reduced sperm mobility, abnormally shaped sperm. At LDC, our private GP's can facilitate comprehensive semen analysis, if the doctor suspects this may be a cause of infertility.
Excessive alcohol consumption can negate the quality of your sperm. It is advisable therefore to remain within the 3-4 units of alcohol per day limit recommendation by the Department of Health.
Excessive alcohol consumption can reduce the quality of a man's sperm, leading to infertility
How can infertility be treated?
Treatment concerning infertility can be divided into three main categories, examples of each include:
- Medication: Various drugs are available to aid ovulation in women.
- Surgery: If the cause of infertility is due to scar tissue in the fallopian tubes in women, surgery may be performed in to repair or remove this scarring.
- Assisted Conception: In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) involves fertilising the egg outside the body in a laboratory, and then placing it back inside the woman’s womb. Our GP's can refer patients on to private fertility clinics, who can provide this service, if appropriate.
Is it time to seek medical advice regarding your fertility?
If you would like help and advice concerning your own fertility and pregnancy goal, arranging a consultation with a GP is the first step you should take. At London Doctors Clinic, accessing a GP is easier than ever - simply book a private GP consultation online, for a 15 or 30-minute appointment at any of our 6 convenient central London clinics.
During your consultation, our experienced GP's can advise on a number of lifestyle changes to improve your chances of conception, and provide thorough fertility investigation by way of blood testing, semen analysis and facilitate any further tests or scans that may be necessary. We have a range of fertility tests available, from which can be tailored to meet patients' specific requests and requirements.
So don't delay, book in today - after all, we're not getting any younger!
By Sonal Srivastava