Saturday FAMILY HEALTH

By Bobo Bode-Kayode; lifeissuesfromwithin@yahoo.com

woman has a very important part to play in conception. The great role cannot be over emphasised .

The emotions begin to run high even when there is nothing visibly wrong. The woman’s body is the ultimate destination, the incubator that eventually carries the foetus and carries to term in readiness for birthing or delivery.

The composition of the woman’s body is complicated as can be simple. The eggs you produce must be of good quality and quantity, your hormones must be at the correct level, your body should be ready to produce, and receive the resulting embryos from the fertilisation from the fusion of the eggs and sperms. The rest is history.

The most common causes of female infertility include problems with ovulation, damage to fallopian tubes or uterus or problems with the cervix. Age can contribute to infertility because as a woman ages, her fertility naturally tends to decrease. Infertility is not hereditary. However, there are medical conditions that are hereditary which may interfere with your ability to get pregnant. Such conditions are polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis and thyroid/hormone disorders.

The main symptom of infertility is the inability to get pregnant. A menstrual cycle that’s too long (35 days or more), too short (less than 21 days), irregular or absent can mean that you’re not ovulating. There may be no other outward signs or symptoms.

POSSIBLE CAUSES:

Conditions affecting a woman’s fertility can include-

• Damage to the fallopian tubes

• Ovulatory problems

• Endometriosis

• Conditions affecting the uterus

• A combination of factors

• No identifiable reason.

• Other factors that may play a part include:

• Age – female fertility declines sharply after the age of 35

• Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

• Gynaecological problems such as previous ectopic pregnancy or having had more than one miscarriage

• Medical conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, and thyroid and bowel diseases

• Lifestyle factors such as stress, being overweight or underweight and smoking.

seek help sometimes depends on your age.

TO GET PREGNANT YOU NEED TO:

• You need to ovulate. To get pregnant, your ovaries must produce and release an egg, a process known as ovulation. Your doctor can help evaluate your menstrual cycles and confirm ovulation.

• Your partner needs sperm. For most couples, this isn’t a problem unless your partner has a history of illness or surgery. Your doctor can run some simple tests to evaluate the health of your partner’s sperm.

• You need to have regular intercourse. You need to have regular sexual intercourse during your fertile time. Your doctor can help you better understand when you’re most fertile.

• You need to have open fallopian tubes and a normal uterus. The egg and sperm meet in the fallopian tubes and the embryo needs a healthy uterus in which to grow.

• For pregnancy to occur, every step of the human reproduction process has to happen correctly. The steps in this process are:

• One of the two ovaries releases a mature egg.

• The egg is picked up by the fallopian tube.

• Sperm swims up the cervix, through the uterus and into the fallopian tube to reach the egg for fertilisation .

• The fertilised egg travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus.

• The fertilised egg implants and grows in the uterus.

SEEK HELP:

Up to age 35, most doctors recommend trying to get pregnant for at least a year before testing or treatment.

If you’re between 35 and 40, discuss your concerns with your doctor after six months of trying.

If you’re older than 40, your doctor may want to begin testing or treatment right away.

Your doctor may also want to begin testing or treatment right away if you or your partner has known fertility problems or if you have a history of irregular or painful periods, pelvic inflammatory disease, repeated miscarriages, prior cancer treatment, or endometriosis.

DIAGNOSIS:

Fertility tests may include-

Ovulation testing. An at-home, over-the-countre ovulation prediction kit detects the surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) that occurs before ovulation. A blood test for progesterone – a hormone produced after ovulation – can also document that you’re ovulating. Other hormone levels, such as prolactin, also may be checked.

Hysterosalpingography (HSG). During HSG. X-ray contrast is injected into your uterus and an X-ray is taken to detect abnormalities in the uterine cavity. The test also determines whether the fluid passes out of the uterus and spills out of your fallopian tubes. If abnormalities are found, you’ll likely need further evaluation. In a few women, the test itself can improve fertility, possibly by flushing out and opening the fallopian tubes.

Ovarian reserve testing. This testing helps determine the quality and quantity of eggs available for ovulation. Women at risk of a depleted egg supply – including women older than 35 – may have this series of blood and imaging tests.

Other hormone testing. Other hormone tests check levels of ovulatory hormones as well as thyroid and pituitary hormones that control reproductive processes.

Imaging tests. A pelvic ultrasound looks for uterine or fallopian tube disease. Sometimes a hysterosonography (his-tur-o- suh -NOG- ruh -fee) is used to see details inside the uterus that can’t be seen on a regular ultrasound.

Other imaging tests. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may request a hysteroscopy to look for uterine or fallopian tube disease.

Laparoscopy. This minimally invasive surgery involves making a small incision beneath your navel and inserting a thin viewing device to examine your fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus. A laparoscopy may identify endometriosis, scarring, blockages or irregularities of the fallopian tubes, and problems with the ovaries and uterus.

Genetic testing. Genetic testing helps determine whether there’s a genetic defect causing infertility.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES:

Both men and women can make lifestyle changes that may increase their chances of conceiving:

• Eat healthily

• A healthy lifestyle can improve your fertility success. A balanced diet will help ensure your body is healthy enough to become pregnant and nourish a developing baby.

• A healthy diet can also help to keep sperm production at optimum levels. Being under- or overweight can make you less likely to become pregnant, so making changes to your diet can help to improve your chances.

• It is recommended that all women trying for a baby should take 400mcg of folic acid a day to help prevent conditions such as spina bifida in your child.

• Exercise regularly.

• Regular, moderate exercise of around 30 minutes a day helps to maximise your fitness and keep your weight in check.

• It also boosts levels of endorphins, the body’s own ‘happy hormones’, which may help to reduce stress. Some people find relaxation techniques or complementary therapies also help them relax.

• Drink wisely.

• Women who are trying to become pregnant should drink no more than one or two units of alcohol once or twice per week. Men should stick within the Department of Health’s recommended daily limit of three to four units. Drinking too much can have a negative impact on semen quality and can harm a developing fetus.

• Medication and drugs

• Some prescription medication can lessen your chances of conceiving, so if you are taking regular medication and trying for a baby, talk to your GP about alternatives that might be more appropriate.

• Some prescription drugs can reduce your chances of conceiving, so if you are taking regular medication, ask your GP about suitable alternatives. All recreational drugs should be completely avoided.

• Smoking has been linked to infertility, quit smoking,

• Smoking has been linked to infertility and early menopause in women and to sperm problems in men. It is also a factor in premature or low birth-weight babies.

• Quitting smoking may help to improve your chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby.

TREATMENT:

The specialist you are seeing would advise on the best possible line of treatment. Everyone should have individualised treatment tailored for you. Fertility stimulatory drugs may be used, and others treatment techniques that suit your own situation. Always have an informed choice. Be bold to ask questions, after all, it is your body.

Reproductive Intervention:

The most commonly used methods of reproductive assistance include:

A. Medical treatment for lack of regular ovulation

B. Surgical procedures – such as treatment for endometriosis

c. assisted conception – which may be intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF)

The treatment offered will depend on what is causing your fertility problems

• Intrauterine insemination (IUI). During IUI, millions of healthy sperm are placed inside the uterus close to the time of ovulation.

• Assisted reproductive technology. This involves retrieving mature eggs from a woman, fertilising them with a man’s sperm in a dish in a lab, then transferring the embryos into the uterus after fertilization. IVF is the most effective assisted reproductive technology. An IVF cycle takes several weeks and requires frequent blood tests and daily hormone injections.