Part Two of Fertility Myths Debunked. Make sure you’ve read Part One.
In this part, we’ll talk a little more about how time can affect your infertility and what we can do to help at the London Women’s Clinic. We continue our talk with Janet Evans from LWC Cardiff for her expert comments.
“If I’m below the age of 40, I don’t have to worry about my fertility.”
Statistically, women are waiting longer and longer before starting their families.
“A common misconception is that you don’t have to worry about menopause or fertility issues until you reach your forties. In fact, it is possible for women to have drastically different biological windows in which they can conceive.”
Women are born with a certain number of eggs. This number of eggs is finite, and the number does not replenish over time. Once a woman’s eggs are used up, the ovaries can no longer respond to hormonal stimulation and menopause occurs.
Some women lose eggs faster than others and this can be for a number of reasons. It could be down to certain diseases that affect fertility, such as endometriosis, where the ovaries become inflamed.
“Looking at a general sample of women, studies suggest that fertility starts to fall very slightly around the age of 35, then the effect becomes more pronounced at 40. Additionally, there is a small but perceptible increase in chromosomal abnormalities, such as Downs Syndrome. This suggests that the issue is not only with the number of the eggs at an increased age, but the quality of the eggs.”
You can have certain tests to assess an individual women’s ovarian status. These include having a Antral Follicle Count (AFC) scan to count the number of follicles (little egg cysts) and an Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) blood test. These tests are including in the LWC’s Fertility MOT which also includes a consultation with a fertility specialist to discuss your fertility.
It can be very difficult, finding the right moment in your life to start a family. Pressure to find the right partner as you grow older can feel overwhelming and there can be intense societal pressure to do so, as well as the exception to excel in your career.
Your 40s might seem like a looming shadow over your dreams of a family, but a lot of ground has been covered in fertility treatment since its inception. The LWC has a specialized program that is designed to specifically help women over the age of 40, you can learn more here.
There are now safe and effective ways for you to freeze and store your eggs, which can potentially help to give you some freedom to live your life while having the stored and frozen eggs ready and waiting for you when you’re ready. Although egg freezing is never a ‘sure thing’, it can definitely take a lot of the pressure off.
“We’ve been told we should wait at least a year before consulting a doctor about not conceiving.”
A couple that is naturally fertile will conceive within the first year of trying. A further 10% will conceive in the second year. It’s from this understanding that the advice ‘wait a year’ has come from.
“There are exceptions to this however,” says Dr Evans including:
- For couples where the woman has very infrequent periods, there is an obvious problem that needs diagnosis and treatment to achieve regular ovulations and, therefore, a better chance at pregnancy.
- For couples where the woman is over the age of 35, it is not advisable to ‘watch and wait’ because of the time constraints that surround the window of a woman’s fertility. It’s wise to start investigations of the ovarian reserve after six months.
- If the woman has had previous pelvic issues, this may have affected her fallopian tubes and this requires immediate attention.
- If the man has had issues such as varicolele (varicose veins in the scrotum), undescended testes as a child, a vasectomy/vasectomy reversal or urological problems.
- Where there are problems with sexual intercourse, such as erection problems, vaginismus (vaginal pain during intercourse).
In these situations, it’s advisable not to delay consulting your doctor for the length of a year. Some fertility problems need to be managed over a period of time, so give yourself the space to work it out.
The London Women’s Clinic is here to offer you:
- A fertility assessment to find the reason for your fertility problem, if there is one. This includes a pelvic ultrasound scan, AMH and consultation with the doctor. A male and female fertility MOT also includes a semen analysis.
- A HyCoSy – this involves injecting dye through the fallopian tubes and using an ultrasound scan to see if the dye has gone through. This is to establish whether or not the patient’s tubes are ‘open’.
- The London Egg Bank for you to safely store eggs until you wish to try for a family.
- The London Sperm Bank with a varied and high-quality stock of sperm should you need to undergo IVF or IUI with donor sperm.
- A full and friendly explanation with one of our consultants, who can give you a present-day rundown of your options and possible action points moving forward.
- A supportive counselling service.
Want to learn a bit more? Feel free to get in touch with the London Women’s Clinic today. We regularly hold free Open Days, so always make sure you're checking up on your nearest clinic location.