Home Family-Planning IVF is not a quick fix, but a process

IVF is not a quick fix, but a process

by Tania Griffin

Currently, infertility challenges affect at least one in every six couples in South Africa – an issue that statistics attribute equally to both men and women. Some of these couples turn to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) as a medical solution.

A good understanding of the conditions in which IVF is the most suitable intervention and how it works can be instrumental in helping couples make informed decisions about their pregnancy journey.

According to the South African Registry for Assisted Reproductive Techniques, 5 000 IVF cycles are performed in South Africa ever year. Despite several turbulent economic trends in recent times, this statistical value has remained relatively stable when compared to previous years.

Providing her insights on the topic is Dr Kasturi Moodley, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Mediclinic Southern Africa. As she explains: “Infertility can be connected to a number of variables including social, medical and lifestyle factors. By definition, a couple who has been trying to have a baby for 12 consecutive months with no success naturally is deemed to be infertile.”

How experts determine whether IVF is the best route

The good news is that treatments like IVF, in tandem with a few lifestyle changes, can make all the difference in helping couples fulfil their dream of becoming parents. It’s important that healthcare institutions and practitioners take their role seriously in destigmatising infertility, normalising fertility support interventions and promoting awareness around what couples can do to increase their chances of success.

At the point at which infertility is detected, the fertility clinic will perform baseline investigations including an ovarian reserve/hormonal profile, a fallopian tube test (HSG) and a semen analysis. Once the clinic has these results, the practitioner, in consultation with the couple, will be in the best position to make an informed decision on which fertility intervention would be the most suitable.

A normal/reasonable ovarian reserve, a set of normal patent fallopian tubes, and normal semen analysis will typically result in the patient being presented with two options: IVF or intrauterine insemination (IUI). Alternatively, if a problem is detected in these three main diagnostic areas, the problem will dictate the fertility treatment that is recommended, on a case-by-case basis.

As Dr Moodley asserts: “It is very important to note that an invasive fertility treatment is not always the only option recommended. Treating fertility issues is a highly personalised process that depends on several factors that will be unique to each couple. It is therefore vital that couples undergo consultations with the right medical experts who will review their case and assist them in making the decision that works for them.” 

IVF is suitable for any couple in whom the woman is 35 years old and above and/or who has not had success with IUI procedures.

IVF is also suitable for same-sex couples in whom one partner would like to provide the egg and the other partner would like to use her uterus to grow an embryo; doing it in this way ensures both partners play an integral part in the fertility process.

Contributing factors to a positive outcome

Many couples undergoing the process or considering it are interested in what they can do practically to increase their chances of conceiving. For Dr Moodley – who has extensive experience in the field of fertility treatment and helping couples along their pregnancy journey – lifestyle modifications play a vital role in the process.

“Couples need to see fertility treatment not as a quick fix but as a process that requires a good amount of self-discipline and sound decision-making. Making healthier choices, in a holistic way that carries through in every area of your lifestyle, can go a long way in promoting a positive outcome,” she says.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise is highly recommended. Furthermore, it’s important to practise moderation where the consumption of alcohol is concerned, and to stop smoking. 

As Dr Moodley concludes: “Being holistically healthier is the first place to start. And if you can make these changes as a couple, even better. Experiencing fertility issues and undergoing the process of IVF can be immensely emotionally and mentally trying. For this reason, honest and open communication between partners is important.

“We encourage couples to share their feelings and experiences with each other and their support networks, to define and express their expectations and needs, and to work together to stay positive and focused.”

Image credit: Freepik

You may also like

Leave a Comment