Infertility is defined as the inability of a couple to achieve a pregnancy over the course of one year when intercourse is occurring randomly.
A newer definition of infertility also exists in a situation where the woman is NaProTRACKING her menstrual cycles (a technique learned through the use of the Creighton Model System). With this system, a couple can use fertility focused intercourse. In such a situation, if pregnancy does not occur over the course of six menstrual cycles using fertility focussed intercourse, then it can be assured that a fertility problem exists.
There is some question as to whether infertility is on the increase or not. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that the lifestyle that exists in much of the western world, which is on the one hand very hectic and stressful and, on the other hand, encourages promiscuity, has actually led to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases and the number of infertile couples. This rate may be close to 20 percent for the latter.
There are a host of lifestyle factors such as exposure to toxins in the home, at work, within personal care and cleaning products, radiation exposure via wireless network/mobiles, pesticides/chemicals used with food/produce, pollutants in water sources etc which can impact on fertility and early embryo development as well as poor nutrition and hydration. These factors need to be appropriately addressed alongside other more obvious causes of infertility.
In any regard, infertility is an extremely difficult problem because it not only involves physical disease entities or problems but also involves psychological and emotional effects. Most infertility problems are related to some type of functional or anatomic disease process and most problems create emotional feelings of sadness, regret, inadequacy, frustration, discouragement, etc.
The most common comment couples make at their initial FertilityCare appointment is "I’ve had all the ‘tests’ and was told they’re all ‘normal’". This is unhelpful as clearly something is NOT normal for conception to not take place.
Unfortunately, some of the most basic blood tests conducted in the cycle are frequently taken at the wrong time in the cycle. This is because of the assumption that every woman has a 28 day cycle and that every woman ovulates on day 14. Hence, the day 21 blood test (as a simple example) is usually inaccurate. This myth about women’s cycles prevents thorough, targeted and accurate hormone evaluation…
Most women too, are completely unaware of the critical importance of cervical mucus – its quality, quantity and number of days produced. Healthy eggs and sperm are not enough....WITHOUT CERVICAL MUCUS, CONCEPTION IS NOT POSSIBLE. Addressing problems of limited mucus or dry cycles is critical to maximising a couple’s chances of conceiving…
SIDE-STEP THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM OR ASSESS & TREAT THE CAUSE?
Where to begin? THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM!
In approaching a problem of infertility, it is best to seek assistance from specialist doctors and a fertility programme that is disease based in their approach to the evaluation and treatment of infertility and who will also provide a comprehensive plan for the evaluation and treatment of this condition in a holistic manner. With this approach, as opposed to the more widely known reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), artificial insemination, gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), etc. a higher pregnancy rate can be achieved while at the same time, having the underlying causes recognized and treated.
Most problems related to infertility have an underlying organic cause and/or a hormonal/functional cause. The latter usually results in some type of abnormality in ovulation while the former creates other difficulties including obstruction of the fallopian tubes, biochemical disturbances that disrupt fertility, etc. About 30 percent of infertile couples will also have an associated male factor problem.
Conditions such as endometriosis, pelvic adhesions (scar tissue), previous infections with chlamydia or gonorrhoea, polycystic ovarian disease, etc. are all organic, disease causes of infertility. In addition, many of these women have associated hormonal dysfunctions which ultimately create abnormal ovulatory patterns which are either incompatible with pregnancy or prone to producing miscarriages, tubal pregnancies, etc.
Critical first step: NaProTracking the cycle
The most important approach to any infertility problem is to have an thorough evaluation. NaProTRACKING the menstrual cycle is the first step for accomplishing this. This is a system of evaluating different naturally occurring biomarkers of menstruation, fertility and infertility and then recording these appropriately so that a daily record can be obtained. In order to track the menstrual cycle accurately, couples need to learn the Creighton Model System.
NaProTRACKING becomes the foundation upon which other testing can be accomplished including the cooperative and reproducible hormone evaluation of the menstrual and ovulation cycles.
Most women with infertility problems should have a pelvic ultrasound examination or a series of ultrasound examinations to determine any ovulatory disorders that might occur. Men should also have a seminal fluid analysis to assess their ability to successfully achieve pregnancy. If abnormalities exist then specific treatments can be implemented.
Finally, a diagnostic laparoscopy and hysteroscopy should be conducted and if necessary, a selective hysterosalpingogram. The first of these tests allows for the visualization of the internal reproductive organs of the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, etc. Such diseases as endometriosis, pelvic adhesions, polycystic ovaries, obstructions of the fallopian tubes, etc. can be visualized and diagnosed. The latter examination allows for a specific testing of the integrity of each fallopian tube separately to make sure that there are no obstructions present, even subtle ones.
With a disease based approach to infertility, and comprehensive planning in its treatment, there is a considerable amount of hope that is available to couples with infertility problems.
Couples with a previous unsuccessful history with an artificial reproductive approach to their infertility, are very pleased with this new approach. For the first time, these couples are educated and become very knowledgeable as to the "why" concerning their infertility.