Fertility Awareness Check-Up
15th of June has been established as the International Fertility Day and an opportunity for couples to be informed for infertility issues.
It is becoming quite common for women today to postpone maternity for later in their lives. To a great extent, this can be attributed to the modern life style that encourages women to put their academic studies, career and financial security first and delay starting a family. On the other hand, statistical research demonstrates that women between 38 to 40 years old have already lost 50% of their fertility (as a percentage of successful pregnancy through natural conception). In fact, this percentage is dramatically decreased after the age of 42. Moreover, there seems to be a misconception that IVF can surpass any difficulty and may achieve positive results whenever a woman might feel ready to get pregnant. I
t is true that many women have overcome infertility through IVF, but age remains the most decisive factor; the older a woman the smaller her chances of having a successful IVF.
Fertility experts suggest that all women should be well informed and check their fertility in advance, in parallel with their annual gynaecological checkup (e.g. Pap test). It is recommended to all women to check their fertility after the age of 30, and by all means before the age of 35, as long as there is no particular medical history, such as surgeries, family history of premature menopause, etc.
The term “fertility check” refers to the appointment with the reproduction gynaecologist and usually includes a complete medical record and examination with ultrasound to check the uterine, the ovaries, etc. During the examination the doctor will check:
- the ovaries: particularly their size and ovarian reserve, ovulation, the existence of any cysts, etc.
- the uterus: its size, the endometrium, the existence of any polyps or fibroids, etc.
The doctor might request a blood test for certain ovarian hormones (FSH, LH, etc.), which are indicative of their function. Very often, the AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) test is also required in order to determine the oocyte reserves (the number of eggs remaining in the ovaries). The blood tests results are evaluated in combination with the ultrasound findings to provide a comprehensive estimation of a woman’s fertility.
What if the tests are not so good? What’s next?
In this case, a woman might reconsider her priorities and accelerate the decision to get pregnant (if her family/personal life can support this decision). Alternatively, IVF can offer a reliable and effective solution to most fertility preservation problems. Choices may vary, depending on the family status or the personal aspirations of each woman:
- IVF and embryos freezing (fertilized eggs) to initiate a pregnancy in a future time (e.g. for a woman who is married or in a relationship)
- Egg freezing to achieve fertilization with the sperm of a future partner.