7 things worth knowing about fertility treatment
1. Infertility is not uncommon
Unfortunately, infertility is not as unusual today as it used to be. Statistically, infertility affects one in six couples and is caused by problems with the woman in 40% of cases, problems with the man in 40% of cases, and problems with both parties in 20% of cases. It is impossible in many instances to say why couples have problems conceiving, so there is clearly a lot we still do not know when it comes to infertility.
Of course, fertile people might need help as well – single women, for example, or lesbian couples or people with genetic diseases who do not want to pass problems on to their children.
We can help you choose the type of treatment that is best for you, depending on what infertility challenges you may have.
2. Age plays a part
Female fertility starts dropping quite drastically from the age of 35. So women’s chances of conceiving are very small in their early 40s, and the situation is even worse from about 45 onwards. Women are born with a certain number of developing eggs in their ovaries. The number and quality of these eggs decline with age. Men’s sperm production is more stable, but it also declines as testosterone production diminishes.
Even older people with infertility problems might find attempting a pregnancy to be worthwhile, but it is best to start when young.
3. Success rates can be difficult to understand
Success rates, or the chances of conceiving, are based on statistics and so do not take individual circumstances into account. Many factors play a part when trying to conceive. Problems with fertility occur at an early age in some families, while other families can conceive at an advanced age.
All clinics are obliged to publish their pregnancy success rates, but there are no rules on how the results should be presented. Some clinics prefer not to treat older women (women over 42), women with low egg reserves or women with gynaecological problems, as these can have a negative impact on the clinic’s overall success rate. This can give a completely false impression of the results of the clinic in question, and in fact a high success rate may give childless women false hope. It is very important to analyse the basis on which the clinic measures its results: positive pregnancy tests, live foetuses after the eighth week of pregnancy, or live births? This is why it is impossible to compare the success rates of different clinics without obtaining further information. Spend a bit of time asking clinics how they calculate their success rates, and ideally talk to several clinics.
4. Most women need more than one attempt
The average IVF success rate is around 35%. Therefore, most childless women have to have more than one try before conceiving. The same rate is applicable to couples who manage to conceive without treatment. When you embark upon fertility treatment, it is important to be aware that you are setting off on a journey, and that the journey to your goal could be any length. You should expect it to take more than one cycle and be pleasantly surprised if you turn out to be one of the lucky people to conceive on the first go.
When you arrive for your first appointment at a clinic, we recommend that you ask for an estimate of the number of attempts you can expect to have to have. A good gynaecologist will give you an estimate of what you can expect based on your blood samples, scans and other investigations.
Fertility treatment can be expensive. Most clinics have price lists, but they can be misleading. It is important to ask about prices before you choose a clinic. The Vitanova website shows our price list and an explanation of how to interpret our prices. Our price list shows a basic price for each treatment, IUI or IVF, and you have to add the price of donor sperm or ICSI, for instance, to the cost of the treatment if you need those. Please feel free to contact us if you need any help with understanding the price list.
6. A frozen cycle is just as good as the fresh cycle
Studies have shown that using frozen embryos is just as good as using non-frozen (fresh) ones. If possible, it is better to freeze embryos (fertilised eggs) rather than eggs that have not been fertilised. Fertilised eggs tolerate thawing better than non-fertilised eggs.
It is a well known fact that fertility treatment could result in a multiple pregnancy – twins or triplets. Quadruplets or more attract a lot of media attention but are rarely the result of IVF. This usually occurs after stimulation with high doses of hormones combined with insemination (IUI). Twins and triplets do occur, but in Denmark clinics endeavour to reduce the number of multiple births as much as possible by only returning a single embryo to the uterus. Pregnancies resulting in twins or triplets are not without risk to both mother and babies.