It is important to understand that simple lifestyle changes may help improve your chances of conceiving.
Smoking, drinking alcohol and excessive weight gain have all been shown to adversely influence egg and sperm quality. So advice would always be to stop these or at least reduce their effect.
Healthy diet and regular exercise can help you maintain a normal weight/BMI. Having intercourse every two to three days around the time of ovulation optimises your chances of pregnancy. It is advisable to avoid smoking completely as a couple, not just for fertility purposes, but also for general health reasons and the effects on pregnancy. Alcohol intake should be discouraged or restricted to less than 4 units per week in women. While the effect on sperm is less clear, excessive alcohol intake or binge drinking has been shown to have an adverse effect on semen quality.
Folic acid supplementation at 400 micrograms daily is now standard advice for all women intending to conceive, as it has been clearly shown to reduce the risk of having a child with neural tube defects. Some women however require a much higher dose because they have a medical condition or are on specific medication.
In general, in women under 40 years of age, with regular unprotected intercourse, more than 80% should conceive within one year. Of those who do not achieve conception within this time, about half will do so by the end of the second year.
Please inform Mrs Gordon if you are using any alternative preparations or complimentary therapies, so she can advice you appropriately.
Fertility drugs are indicated if a problem has been identified in your particular situation that needs treatment. These range from simple oral medications to daily injections. They need to be administered at specific times in your cycle to achieve maximum effect and will only be prescribed to you after full discussion of any risks/side effects. The majority of patients however tolerate them very well.
Ovulation induction is the use of fertility drugs such as Clomiphene Citrate or Gonadotrophin injections, to stimulate the egg sac (follicle) development in your ovaries. This may be a simple drug treatment to correct your inability to ovulate regularly or more intensive stimulation with injections. The latter will require regular scan monitoring and sometimes blood tests to confirm appropriate follicle development. The drugs also control the time that you release the eggs (ovulate) so you can plan your intercourse at the optimum time to achieve a pregnancy.
The main worry with the drugs, in particular gonadotrophin injections, is their ability to initiate an exaggerated response from the ovaries, that can lead to a condition referred to as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). Close monitoring of your treatment cycle is therefore necessary and cancellation of treatment may be advised to avoid this complication.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the placement of washed sperm into the uterus, at the time of ovulation. The sperm is prepared so as to maximise the number of good quality spermatozoa available to interact with the egg(s). This method may be used as a first line treatment prior to assisted conception treatments such as IVF. It is most effective in younger women and when some form of ovarian stimulation is used. It is important to confirm that your tubes are open and healthy prior to initiating this treatment.
The insemination itself takes only a few minutes and does not require anaesthetic so you are, after a few minutes to recover, able to carry on your day as normal.
Supporting your treatment elsewhere & abroad
For some patients, their chosen treatment pathway is to have fertility treatment abroad and here at the Spire Bristol Hospital, Mrs Gordon is able to support your treatment whilst you are in the UK.
The assisted conception (IVF or ICSI) pathway requires regular scans and for some patients they will additionally require blood tests at specific intervals whilst back in the UK. Mrs Gordon offers a 30 minute consultation and scan specifically to support this treatment which is undertaken abroad. Blood tests can be arranged as required and we can arrange a quote for any tests if they do not fit the profiles above.
- Consultation with Consultant (Uma Gordon): £240
- Scan only: £180