Infertility can be agonizing. You want to spend your time shopping for maternity clothes, comparing doctors or midwives, and setting up your nursery. Instead you find yourself spending more time, month after month, hoping against the odds that you’ll see that second line on your pregnancy test.
And yet, that second line never comes. The team at the Center of Reproductive Medicine in Houston, Texas, understands the agony of infertility. We’ve helped countless patients just like you. We want you to know that there is hope, but only if you’re willing to seek help from the right infertility specialist.
Infertility is Common -- and Treatable
Infertility can feel profoundly isolating. Everyone around you seems to be pregnant without any effort, as you still struggle. But as much as it seems so, this isn’t really the case. Consider the following:
- 1 in 8 couples struggle with fertility issues.
- After one year of trying for a baby, 12-15% of couples are unable to conceive.
- After two years, 10% are still unable to conceive -- suggesting that about half of infertile couples will still not get pregnant after another year of trying.
Some other important reproductive medicine statistics about infertility include:
- A healthy couple under the age of 33 has a 20-25% chance of pregnancy each month they try.
- After six months of trying, 40% of couples still have not conceived.
- About a quarter of women ages 35-39 have difficulty getting pregnant.
These statistics are not exactly hopeful, but treatment really does work. 65% of people who seek infertility treatment give birth. For those who seek treatment at a high quality treatment center like the Center of Reproductive Medicine, the figure is even higher.
- 66% of patients under 35 are able to get pregnant.
- Among those who use a donor egg, 85% get pregnant.
It’s Important to Test Both Partners
In the popular imagination, infertility is still a women’s health issue. The superstitious days of blaming women for infertility should be long behind us. About a third of cases are due to a problem with the woman alone, and an additional third are due to a problem with the man. In a third of cases, both partners have an issue, or the causes of infertility remain unexplained.
So what causes infertility anyway?
Getting pregnant is actually a complicated process that requires numerous systems to perfectly orchestrate a healthy baby. If anything is slightly out of tune, infertility can result.
To get pregnant, a woman must ovulate. The egg must be reasonably healthy, able to travel to the uterus, and capable of implanting in the uterus. Her body must produce the right hormones to sustain the pregnancy, and the egg must be able to embed itself in the lining of the uterus.
Research suggests that issues with ovulation are a leading cause of infertility, accounting for about 25% of cases. Ovulation issues can happen when the woman has a condition that causes her to ovulate infrequently due to hormonal issues, when the woman’s egg reserve is being depleted, or when age or other health factors damage her eggs.
Other common causes of infertility in women include:
- Hormonal issues. Those that affect the body’s ability to sustain a healthy pregnancy.
- Damage to the reproductive structures. For example, endometriosis can make it difficult for the egg to implant in the uterus.
- Lifestyle issues that damage eggs or developing embryos. For example, smoking can cause genetic mutations on eggs, and can also trigger an early miscarriage.
- Age. A woman’s fertility begins declining in her thirties, and declines precipitously in her forties. When a woman hits menopause, she can no longer get pregnant.
To impregnate a partner, a man must have reasonably healthy sperm. He must be able to get an erection and ejaculate. After he ejaculates, the sperm must be able to travel to the egg for fertilizing. If a man’s sperm count is too low, it is less likely that a sperm will make it to the egg. The same is true of sperm with low motility.
In 10-15% of men, there is a complete lack of sperm. This can be due to several conditions, but one common culprit is a varicocele. This swollen vein in the testicles can damage sperm or prevent them from traveling to the penis. Not all men with a varicocele are infertile, but for many, treating this otherwise benign condition also treats infertility.
Some other common causes of infertility in men include:
- Heart health. Conditions with the heart can affect the ability to get or keep an erection.
- Retrograde ejaculation. With this condition, a man can ejaculate, but the sperm is reabsorbed into the body instead of exiting the penis.
- Health issues that damage sperm. Sperm quality also declines with age.
- Lifestyle. Health issues such as drug abuse or excessive drinking.
In many cases, one or both partners is not fully infertile, but instead has diminished fertility. A woman who ovulates only every 50 days, for example, has a weaker chance of getting pregnant because she ovulates fewer times in a given year. Likewise, a man with low sperm count might still be able to impregnate his partner, but his chances are lower. When both partners have diminished fertility, their overall chances of a pregnancy can greatly decrease.
Sometimes infertility is due to the way the couple’s bodies interact. For example, a woman’s vaginal fluids may harm a man’s sperm. Some women’s bodies treat the man’s sperm like a foreign invader or infection, killing it before it ever has a chance to reach the egg.
The many complexities of male and female infertility, as well as the ways these forms of infertility interact, point to the urgent need to test both partners. Even if a doctor diagnoses a fertility issue in one partner, the other could still have an undiagnosed concern. You waste time and money if you test or treat only one partner.
Time is Your Enemy
We’ve all heard the old adage that if you don’t succeed, just keep trying. Many couples apply this rule to their attempts to get pregnant. Yet fertility is one arena in which continuing to try without changing something can actually make things worse.
Time is your enemy, no matter how old you are. Fertility declines with age, and declines more rapidly when the woman hits thirty. So if what you’re doing isn’t working, don’t waste more time. Fertility is one of few things in life that has a definite expiration date. Don’t waste your fertile years crying in the bathroom waiting for the pregnancy test to turn positive. If it’s not working after a year, it’s time to get help.
The good news is that if you seek help now, you may have more options than if you wait. When you're young and healthy, a fertility specialist can try less invasive and costly measures. You’re also less likely to suffer from age-related fertility issues. So if your primary reason for avoiding help is concerns about cost or fear of difficult and time-consuming fertility procedures, that’s actually a great reason to seek help now.
IVF is Highly Successful, and the Clinic You Choose Matters
We’ve all heard the tragic stories of couples who blow through their savings or go into credit card debt trying to get pregnant, only to end up childless and penniless. At the Center of Reproductive Medicine, we don’t want that. We want to see you healthy, happy, and whole -- whether you become a parent or not. So we’ll work with you to find the right fertility treatment for your needs. In many cases, it’s as simple as correctly timing intercourse and taking the right medication for a few months.
But sometimes, the first line of treatment doesn’t work. In other cases, we can’t determine the cause of infertility, or the number of healthy sperm and eggs is so limited that we don’t want to waste time.
That’s when IVF is a great choice. And contrary to those scare tactics you’ve probably heard, IVF is actually the single most reliable reproductive medicine technique.
Consider the following success rate, per cycle, for fresh embryos. These are embryos that are not frozen:
- 47.5% for women under 35
- 39.6% for women 35-37
- 28% for women 38-40
- 15.7% for women 40-42
- 56.8% with donor eggs
For frozen embryos, rates are similar but slightly lower:
- 46.6% for women under 35
- 44% for women 35-37
- 38.3% for women 38-40
- 32.1% for women 40-42
- 41.5% with donor eggs
Given that the success rate for young, healthy people per cycle of trying naturally is only about 20%, these figures mean that IVF offers infertile couples a greater chance of getting pregnant each month than fertile couples have. Put another way, an infertile couple using IVF has more than double the odds of success that a fertile couple has when trying the old-fashioned way.
Those are spectacular odds and the right fertility specialist can increase your odds even more.
What’s more, IVF is an evolving science. As leaders in our field, we stay on top of the research so we can continually serve our patients better. That means our success rates are constantly improving as we cultivate new techniques and hone our skills.
The Right Fertility Specialist in Texas Can Help
The single most important factor in whether or not you are able to have a child is the fertility specialist you choose. According to data from the CDC, there is a wide variety of success between clinics. Some clinics have had almost no success at all, particularly with IVF. Others, like ours, boast impressive success rates.
Another important factor to explore is the odds of a multiple pregnancy. While many couples are thrilled to learn they will be having twins or triplets, these pregnancies are inherently higher risk. You might need a c-section or an early induction of labor. Your child might need to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). And of course, there are the financial realities of having two children at once.
Good fertility specialists know how to balance the odds, maximizing your likelihood of success without tipping the scales in favor of multiples. At our clinic, a singleton pregnancy is the most common outcome.
Don’t just ask about multiples, though. Ask also about complications. Ovarian hyperstimulation, unpleasant hormone side effects, miscarriage, and other complications can be painful and frightening. The right fertility clinic takes expert measures to reduce the risk. Ask what your clinician will do to keep you safe for the entire process. After all, a healthy baby deserves healthy parents.
The Center of Reproductive Medicine: Here to Help
Infertility is hard. Treatment doesn’t have to be. We’ve walked this road with countless patients. We’re here to walk it with you. We know that asking for help isn’t easy, so we greet you with a warm smile, a shoulder to cry on, and expert insight. Infertility treatment is a science. We are rigorous, dedicated scientists. We do what works. We also understand the gentle art of supporting our patients in their journey to parenthood. We can help you connect to support groups, mental health care, and numerous other resources.
You've felt alone for too long. It’s time to get help, get pregnant, and move forward. That’s what we’re here for. If you’ve tried for longer than a year, or if your over 35 and you’ve tried longer than six months, don’t waste another moment.
Give us a call today. Let us show you what compassionate, scientific, effective care really looks like. The data is on our side.