What is infertility?
Infertility is strictly defined as the inability to conceive after one (1) year of unprotected intercourse. If you have not conceived after a year of trying, you should see an expert in the field of reproductive medicine for a complete evaluation and treatment. Most infertility causes are identifiable and treatable.
Note: Some patients should seek consultation prior to one (1) year. This includes women age 35 or older, or women with known gynecologic problems such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids or fallopian tube blockage.
What are the causes of infertility?
Abnormalities in sperm counts (low sperm), sperm motility or sperm morphology account for approximately 40% of infertility. Therefore, the support of both partners, male and female, is critical to proper evaluation and treatment of the infertile couple. The other 60% fall into the following categories:
- Difficulty in ovulation or monthly production and release of an egg
- Adhesions (scar tissue) or damage to the fallopian tubes
- Cervical damage which may result in poor cervical mucous
- Immunologic factors
- Unexplained infertility
Initial evaluation of the infertile couple should, at a minimum, include a thorough history and physical examination, assessment of ovulation, fallopian tube patency and semen analysis. Additional testing may be indicated for some couples dependent on their medical history.
How do I go about choosing a doctor?
Most women have established a relationship with a gynecologist whom they trust and respect. Although obstetrician gynecologists are familiar with various issues related to infertility, their specialty lies in a different area. Reproductive medicine is advancing far too quickly for a non-specialist to stay informed of and fully trained in the widely changing range of technologies available. Therefore, it is important to choose a doctor with extensive experience with infertility and a known success rate.
The Reproductive Resource Center of Greater Kansas City, founded in 1988 with over 10,000 babies born, provides an unprecedented experience base to treat infertility.
What medical records will the infertility physician want to see?
- Copies of your most recent pap smear and mammogram report
- Copies of all operative reports
- Copies of any prior hysterosalpingogram reports and films
- Copies of any prior semen analyses
- Summary of prior infertility treatments
Is infertility covered by insurance?
Insurance coverage varies from patient to patient. Although some couples will receive insurance reimbursement, for many couples, there may be little to no coverage for infertility procedures. A telephone call to your insurance provider can be helpful in assessing your infertility insurance benefits. For more information, please refer to the section entitled “Fees and Insurance.”
Are children born as a result of infertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) at higher risk for genetic abnormalities or developmental problems?
Some studies have demonstrated that IVF babies may be at slight increased risk for birth defects. It is important to remember that the risk of birth defects in the general population may be estimated at 3-4% and that in IVF babies the birth defect rate may be estimated to be 2.6-3.9%. Importantly, studies to date have been contradictory and unable to prove a significant link between IVF treatment and specific types of birth defects. Also, studies have not been designed to evaluate if birth defects in women undergoing IVF therapy are related to the IVF treatment or the underlying infertility diagnosis and problem.
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Understanding PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, commonly referred to as PCOS, is believed to affect between 5-10% of women of childbearing age. It is one of the most common hormonal disorders and therefore a major cause of infertility. You may hear PCOS also referred to as polycystic ovaries, polycystic ovary disease, polyfollicular ovarian disease...