What is Fertility?
Infertility is the inability to conceive after one year of trying. Nearly one in eight of all couples who desire to have a baby is infertile. Several simple tests can identify the cause of infertility, which is as often found in the female as it is in the male. Many times multiple causes can be diagnosed. Only rarely, no apparent reason for infertility can be found.
What is Assisted Reproductive Technology and IVF ?
IVF (in vitro fertilization or a “test-tube baby” procedure) is the most advanced treatment in reproduction. The fertilization of eggs occurs outside of the female body, in a Petri dish. Multiple eggs are removed from the woman’s ovary using a needle guided by ultrasound under anesthesia and then mixed with her partner’s sperm. Resulting embryos are kept in the incubator for several days and allowed to divide and multiply their cells. The well developing embryos are then placed into the uterus by introducing a thin plastic catheter through the cervix. If the quality of the man’s semen is very poor, his sperm may not be able to fertilize female eggs on their own. In these cases, one individual sperm can be injected into the egg directly using a microscopic needle. Men who have no sperm in the ejaculate may undergo a direct sperm aspiration from the epididymis or testis. If the woman fails to develop good quality eggs in her ovaries, the couple may decide to use eggs obtained from a healthy and fertile donor. The resulting embryos are then placed into the woman’s uterus.
How do Different Infertility Specialists Work Together to Help a Couple Achieve Pregnancy ?
The complex problems of infertility require expertise from many disciplines:
- Reproductive endocrinologists are physicians who received formal obstetrics and gynecology subspecialty training in the field of hormonal regulation of reproduction and treatment of female infertility.
- Reproductive urologists are physicians who received formal urology subspecialty training in the field of hormonal regulation of male reproduction and treatment of male infertility.
- Reproductive nurses are specially trained to address specific needs of infertility patients and to provide counseling and education in complex infertility treatment. Reproductive nurses also assist and coordinate high-tech reproductive procedures.
- Embryologists are medical biologists who received meticulous theoretical and practical training in cell culture and advanced laboratory techniques of oocyte (egg), sperm and embryo manipulation.
- Reproductive laboratory technologists perform comprehensive testing of semen and sperm preparation for reproductive procedures. The service also includes a variety of hormonal blood tests.