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Infertility is a growing issue for many couples. Infertility affects 1 in 6 couples of childbearing age in the UK.

25% of infertile couples have more than one cause of infertility.

The current increase in infertility might be the result of more women choosing to delay starting a family until later in life, when their reproductive health can be affected.

The increase of some sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia can result in conditions such as blocked tubes, preventing pregnancy from occurring.

A woman's most fertile time is during ovulation.

The average menstrual cycle is 28 days - that is counting day one as the first day of menstrual bleeding then the next period is due to start 28 days later.

The menstrual period comes because an egg fails to become fertilised. The period comes about 12 to 14 days after the egg is produced.

Therefore, in the average 28 day cycle the egg is produced around day 14. Sperms can live happily 48 hours in the vagina or the uterus so the most fertile time is from day 12 to day 16.

There are a number of factors which can increase a woman's risk of infertility. These include:

  • Her age.
  • Being under or overweight.
  • Smoking.
  • Moderate or heavy caffeine and/or alcohol use.
  • Excessive exercise.
  • Certain environmental exposures.
  • Depression.
  • Sexually transmitted infections.
  • Hormonal changes, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and primary ovarian insufficiency.

This depends on the reason of the lack of periods.  

If in fact you are menopausal then you will need egg donation.

However, if the problem is hormonal, you may be treated with fertility medications.

No, infertility is not always a woman's problem.  Both women and men can have problems that cause infertility.  About one-third of infertility cases are caused by women's problems.  Another one third of fertility problems are due to the man.  The other cases are caused by a mixture of male and female problems or by unknown problems.

With men, declining sperm counts and testicular abnormalities, are common causes of infertility.

With women, the most common causes are tubal blockage, endometriosis, PCOS, and advanced maternal age which affects egg quality/quantity.

A man's sperm can be changed by his overall health and lifestyle. Some things that may reduce the health or number of sperm include:

  • Heavy alcohol use.
  • Recreational drugs.
  • Anabolic steroids and body building medications.
  • Certain medicines.
  • Smoking cigarettes.
  • Age.
  • Environmental toxins, including pesticides and lead.
  • Radiation treatment and chemotherapy for cancer.
  • Health problems such as mumps, serious conditions like kidney disease, or hormone problems.

Infertility in men is most often caused by:

  • Blockage.   A blockage in any part of the reproductive system that helps deliver sperm, such as the epididymis or vas deferens, can cause infertility.
  • Medications.  Certain medications, such as anabolic steroids, cancer drugs, have been associated with infertility in men.
  • Low sperm count. When a man produces too little sperm, it can cause problems with conception.
  • Sperm problems.  Sometimes sperm are shaped abnormally or move in abnormal ways, which can lead to male infertility.
  • Undescended testicle.  A testicle that doesn't move down from the abdomen into the scrotum can affect sperm production.  Sometimes a man is born with the problems that affect his sperm.  Other times problems start later in life due to illness or injury.  For example, cystic fibrosis often causes infertility.
  • Varicoceles.  This happens when the veins on a man's testicle(s) are too large.  This heats the testicles.  The heat can affect the number or shape of the sperm.
  • Medical problems.  Some medical conditions, such as kidney failure, can lead to male fertility problems.

We do have a full male fertility services with male fertility specialist (Andrologist) available in our department to deal with any male fertility issues.  Please contact our unit for more information.

If you are under 35 and have had frequent (about two or three times a week) unprotected sex for at least a year without conceiving (or three to six months if you're 35 or older), you may want to consult a fertility expert.  

Or see a doctor if you have a history of:

You always have the option of asking your health care provider to conduct a complete examination and perform initial investigations to determine if either partner has possible fertility issues.

Infertility can be treated with medicine, surgery, artificial insemination, or assisted reproductive technology.  Many times these treatments are combined.  In most cases infertility is treated with drugs or surgery.

Doctors recommend specific treatments for infertility based on:

  • Test results.
  • How long the couple has been trying to get pregnant.
  • The age of both the man and woman.
  • The overall health of the partners.
  • Preference of the partners.

Fertility treatments can increase the likelihood of getting pregnant.

Treatments can include lifestyle changes, supplements, surgery, medication, or assisted reproduction.

There are several treatments under assisted reproduction such as In vitro Fertilisation (IVF), Gamete Intra-Fallopian Transfer (GIFT), and Zygote Intra-Fallopian Transfer (ZIFT).  All these procedures involve harvesting a number of eggs in the hope of fertilising at least one egg, and then inserting the fertilised egg(s) into the uterus.

Success rates vary and depend on many factors.  Some things that affect the success rate of ART include:

  • The reason for infertility.
  • The age of the partners.
  • The type of ART treatment.
  • If the egg is fresh or frozen.
  • If the embryo is fresh or frozen.

We have no waiting list for IVF at all.  Most of our patients have their first initial consultation with our fertility specialist within a few weeks of first contact.  They usually begin treatment within a month or two after completing the consent forms and other documentation.

Usually we are able to arrange your first visit to our clinic within few weeks.  All the required investigations are performed on Day 2 of your period.  Following that you will be seen in the clinic to complete the consent forms.  After that your treatment can commence.

It's best to wait for at least 2-3 months before starting another IVF treatment.  This is to make sure that your hormones get back to normal before commencing another treatment cycle.

Remaining embryos can be frozen with a specific technique.  Later they can be implanted into your womb without the hormonal stimulation.

Your embryos can remain frozen up to for 10 years for social reasons.

ICSI (Intra-cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) is an infertility treatment that can be used with conventional IVF.  During ICSI, one single sperm is injected directly into an egg.

ICSI is especially useful in cases if there is a problem with man's sperm.

No, we do not.

We feel that ICSI should only be performed when necessary, for example when the there is a problem with the sperm or there is a prior history of poor fertilisation through IVF.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves a laboratory procedure to separate fast moving sperm from more sluggish or non-moving sperm.

The fast moving sperm are then placed into the woman's womb close to the time of ovulation when the egg is released from the ovary in the middle of the monthly cycle.

Yes, embryos can be frozen for the maximum of 5 years.

No.  The urine test is predictable to about 25 mIU per mL of bHCG (the pregnancy hormone).  It also depends on your hydration level.

On the other hand, blood tests are sensitive to approximately 2 mIU per mL.

Therefore, a very early pregnancy may still be detected with blood tests but be missed with a urine pregnancy test.

We usually recommend that patients test their urine in the early afternoon.  If measured early in the morning, the urine can be concentrated and thus give you false positive results.

We recommend any time after 3.00 pm.

In our Unit we provide expert fertility medical treatment for married and unmarried couples, same sex couples and individuals.

You are both required to attend as a couple for the initial consultation to complete all the necessary paper work and consents.

If you meet the criteria for an NHS funded cycle there will not be any cost to you whilst undertaking your NHS funded treatment.

Yes we do.  As long as your Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) agree to fund your treatment.

As with any form of treatment, potential risks and side-effects do exist.  One or two embryos are often placed in the uterus, so there's a higher chance that you could end up having twins or multiples, rather than a single pregnancy.  Multiple pregnancies carry extra risks themselves, increasing the chance of pregnancy complications or miscarriage.

Mild reactions to the drugs do occur sometimes, causing symptoms such as headaches, mood swings and hot flushes.  A more severe reaction is called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), where cysts develop on the ovaries and fluid collects in the abdomen.  Symptoms of this include swelling in the abdomen, pain, vomiting and nausea.

Sometimes it's also possible to have an ectopic pregnancy, whereby the embryo develops in a fallopian tube, rather than the womb.  If you're having IVF and develop any unusual or concerning symptoms, then it's important to speak to your doctor immediately.

Undergoing IVF can be emotionally challenging too, especially when treatment cycles are unsuccessful.  We have counselling facilities available in our Unit. There are also other support groups available in the UK.

We have a in-house counsellors, who are available to see you should you find this beneficial.

Visit our Counselling Service page here.

As well as counselling you may find further 'couple counselling' useful to work through issues brought up by the treatment.

There is no practical limit to the length of time sperm, correctly maintained in liquid nitrogen, can be stored.

A percentage of the sperm will not survive the freezing process. The survival rate varies greatly between individuals.

2 to 5 milliliters (2-5cc).

Between four and five days is ideal.

You need to be seen in the clinic a few weeks prior to the date you anticipate needing the samples.  Contact the Andrology Department.

The woman would need to be assessed by the doctor for blood tests or a current pap smear and to assess tubal patency (to make sure there are no blockages in her fallopian tubes).  Some documentation needs to be completed prior to any insemination.  Be sure to communicate with your doctor in advance to avoid any delays.

Regardless of how many samples are frozen it is impossible to guarantee success. The best advice is to carefully consult with both an Andrologist and your doctor before beginning any use of the samples.

Many cryopreserved samples may not be of sufficient quality for use with artificial insemination. However, IVF with ICSI is regularly performed with samples of poor quality or concentration.

The specimen container used to collect the sample is labeled and verified by the patient prior to collection. Once the sample is received it is handled with extreme caution. All materials used in the process are labeled with the patient's name, the current date, and a hospital number unique to the patient and the sample collected. Each sample is assigned a physically isolated workstation. All tools and solutions used in preparing the sample for cryopreservation are sterile and single-use. Certified Andrology technicians will ensure there is no confusion in the handling of semen samples.

Arrangements can be made to ship semen samples to another clinic or storage facility in the area you are moving to. Some documentation will be necessary to ensure proper handling and security of the samples.

Yes, you can, as long as neither of you is married to someone else. You would also need to provide proof that you are living together.

The maximum number of embryos implanted will depend on your age, number of previous IVF attempts, and quality of embryos.

Normally up to 2 embryos can be implanted.

A blastocyst is 5-day old embryo that has around 70-100 cells.

We now have the ability to grow the embryos for 7 days until they reach the blastocyst stage.  For many patients, these blastocysts may have a greater chance of implantation, permitting us to implant fewer embryos and lower the possibility of multiple births while, at the same time, increasing the chance of pregnancy.