Infertility Awareness Week – Struggling couples are not alone
The stigma attached to infertility keeps many couples across the country from seeking treatment. But during National Infertility Awareness Week this week, specialists are highlighting the fact that they are not alone and there is help available.
Between 12 and 15 percent of the population in the United States struggles with infertility, including an estimated 200,000 in New Jersey.
Both men and women can have problems that cause infertility. With the male partner, infertility is usually a result of low sperm counts or sperm that do not swim as well as they are supposed to. In females, there may be anatomic obstructions, or blockages that prevent pregnancy, or problems with their eggs or ovulation, where the eggs are not released in a timely fashion.
"The biggest issue women seem to face is the reduction in egg quantity and quality that happens with age. Women are born with all the eggs that they're ever going to have. They don't make new ones and over the course of their lives, they are using up their eggs," said Dr. Thomas Molinaro of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey. "For many patients, the quantity and quality of their eggs starts to decrease in their mid-thirties and by the time they hit 40, fertility has declined, which makes it more challenging to conceive and they just need help."
In a recent survey that looked at 1,000 individuals who were either actively attempting pregnancy or planning to attempt pregnancy within five years, the idea of delaying pregnancy was one that most of them felt was ok. Most of those surveyed felt that they would delay pregnancy until their 30s and more than 90 percent thought that if there was a problem, they would get fertility treatment and it would work out.
There are a number of treatments available for couples suffering with infertility including oral medications to improve ovulation; fertility injections to try to amplify ovulation, surgical evaluation and repair and in vitro fertilization.
"Our highest success rate is with in vitro fertilization (IVF) where we take egg and sperm and have them meet in our embryology laboratory. Through that, we can overcome many challenges. We can make embryos and we can perform genetic testing on embryos for patients who may have genetic issues. We can overcome a lot of the problems that couples have with fertility," Molinaro said.
If a woman younger than 35 years old, trying to conceive and has regular menstrual cycles and no obvious issues, it is recommended that she try for about 12 months before seeking help. If the woman is trying to conceive and is over the age of 40, it is recommended that she try for six months before seeking help.