According to Eurostat, women in Ireland, on average wait until they’re 30 to have babies.
Now we’ve heard enough times that we reach peak fertility somewhere in our mid twenties so waiting is adding pressure to our frantically ticking biological clock. The internet is full of conflicting reports about what is and isn’t normal when it comes to fertility and needless to say, the amount of information is overwhelming. To make matters as easy as possible we spoke to Mary McAuliffe, fertility nurse specialist and Head of Clinical Services at Cork FertilityCentre.
Here is what she had to say about when you should and shouldn’t be worried about fertility.
With so much media coverage of celebrities seeking fertility treatment and documenting their IVF journeys, the anxiety around trying to conceive when nothing is happening can become amplified for women and couples.
If you and your partner have made the decision to have a baby, it’s good to know when you should and when you shouldn’t become concerned if that blue line is not appearing.
When not to be concerned
If you are younger than 35, have regular periods, no family history of fertility issues or early menopause, and no underlying issues such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or endometriosis, then there is no need to worry if you have been trying for less than six months. I would always recommend when someone is trying to conceive, that they keep a menstrual diary to track their cycle, so you have a good understanding of your pattern and know when you are ovulating.
If you find yourself anxious even if everything appears normal, then to alleviate stress I would suggest you (and your partner) avail of a simple and cost-effective fertility assessment. This will either reassure you that all is well, or inform you of an underlying issue, which you can take steps to correct. At our clinics we offer a self-referral fertility assessment service, My Fertility Check, which is a quick and straightforward test.
When to know it’s time to seek fertility help
If you are under 35 and have been trying without success for 12 months and there is no history of early menopause or known fertility issues with you or your partner, then it may be a good time to consider seeking help.
If you are over 35 and unsuccessful after six months, you should take action and make an appointment with a fertility specialist. Age is the single greatest factor affecting a woman’s fertility, which goes into decline at a faster rate after the age of 35.
It is more difficult for women over this age to become pregnant, even with assisted reproductive technology. The earlier an issue is identified, the sooner we can address it with you. Remember, one in six couples will struggle when trying for a pregnancy, so you are not alone.
Don’t forget the male factor
Of course, fertility issues also affect men. In fact in 30% of cases, a male factor is the reason why a couple has been unable to conceive, while in a further 10% of cases it is a combination of both male and female difficulties. So, if your partner has undescended testicles, had mumps when he was younger, or had any injuries to his testicular area, it would be a good idea to have an early assessment to ensure all is well, and if not, treatment is available to help you achieve your goal.
Advances in reproductive technology for men now mean that there are simple, effective and non-invasive procedures which can be very successful in overcoming some problems.
Tips to choose the right fertility clinic for you
When the time comes to choose a clinic, there are a number of factors to consider, with one of the most important being success rates.
Pregnancy rates will often be quoted on a website, but you also need to look at the live birth rate – the number of babies born per completed cycle of treatment. Pregnancy rates are usually higher than live birth rates, but it’s the chance of having a baby from treatment that you are actually interested in. A call to the clinic should give you an indication, for your age of how likely it is that you would have a baby from one treatment cycle.
It is really important that you trust the clinic and get a good feel for the team. If you have an opportunity to visit a clinic or attend an information evening, you should get a good sense of the clinic and its ethos.
Consider the opening times and the location of the clinic. It is important that the clinic is within reasonable distance of your home or work. It’s best to avoid long journeys as they will result in added stress, time off work, expense etc.
The cost of treatment is a very important factor to consider. Enquire if there will be additional costs involved or added extras, as you do not want to be faced with an unexpected bill at the end of your treatment.
You also need to be sure that the clinic offers the full range of treatment options. In addition to offering IVF, the clinic should also provide the less invasive treatments. If you are aware of a specific problem that is causing your fertility issues or contributing to it, it is always best to make a phone-call and ensure they are the best clinic to treat your concern.