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Infertility is the inability to carry a pregnancy to term with the birth of a healthy child whereas sterility is the inability to conceive. Medically, infertility and sterility can be distinguished in primary and secondary terms.
Primary infertility – when a couple is able to start a pregnancy, but is not able to bring it to full term.
Secondary infertility – when a couple has repeated miscarriages after one full term pregnancy.
Primary sterility – when a couple, after a year of sexual relations without taking any precautions, is not able to conceive.
Secondary sterility – when a couple, after having their first child, is not able to conceive again after two or more years of attempts.
In Spain, infertility affects 15% of couples of reproductive age which corresponds to about one million couples in need of fertility treatments in order to conceive.
Causes of infertility vary from person to person and couple to couple and can be related to male factors or female factors, or both. For women, delaying motherhood is a main factor, while for men it can be due to low sperm count or decreased sperm motility. Surgical interventions or oncology treatments can also cause infertility as well as stress and lifestyle issues such as obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking.
The data shows that 45% of infertility problems are caused by feminine issues while another 45% are attributable to male issues. In women, the causes can be due to a decrease in healthy egg production which is age related, hormone disorders, low progesterone or obstructions in the reproductive organs. The causes in men are normally due to a low sperm count, poor sperm quality, or ejaculation disorders. The remaining 10% of infertility issues are due to mixed or combined causes in which both are responsible.
Couples should begin seeking medical help if they don’t have any success conceiving after 1 year of trying. On the other hand, women over the age of 35 with a family history of gynecological diseases and men with a family history of urological diseases should begin a sterility study if they have not been able to conceive after 6 months of trying.
There’s no such thing as too much sex, however timing is everything. To increase the likelihood of conception, it’s important to have sex frequently around the time of ovulation. Once the egg is released from the ovary, it survives for only 24 hours or less and can only be fertilized during this period. Since sperm can live for up to three days, a good way to increase your chances is to have sex during the two days leading up to ovulation and again on the day you ovulate.
If you are unsure about when you ovulate, breast tenderness, discomfort in your abdomen, and vaginal discharge that is thick and egg-white in consistency, and a slight increase in basal body temperature are signs that you are ovulating. If you consistently have sex three times a week, you will be mostly likely to hit a fertile period at some point.
Initial testing includes a Pelvic Ultrasound Scan which is a diagnostic procedure that assesses pelvic organs and detects abnormalities in the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes, a Hormone Profile & Viral Screen which is a blood test required to check blood count, hormone levels, and whether a woman has ever been infected with certain viruses, and a Semen Analysis which is a test performed on a sample of semen to check both sperm count and motility. These preliminary tests help to determine if any reproductive problems exist and enable us to identify the best treatment option for you.
The only procedure that is painful is the egg retrieval process during an IVF cycle, which involves the insertion of a hollow needle through the pelvic cavity guided by ultrasound imaging. However, since this is considered as minor surgery, it is carried out under anesthesia so patients are completely unaware of any pain or discomfort. After the procedure, some minor cramping in the ovaries may be felt but this can be treated with pain medication.
There are risks associated with the use of injectable fertility drugs to induce ovulation which can cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Symptoms include mild abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and in rare cases, rapid weight gain and shortness of breath. In addition, there is always a possibility of complications or secondary effects during the egg retrieval phase even though the surgical procedure is minor. Risks are associated with general anesthesia and the use of an aspirating needle to retrieve eggs from the ovaries could possibly cause bleeding, infection, or damage to the bowel, bladder or a blood vessel. Although these risks are always minimal, it is important to be aware of them.
The effect of cancer treatment on fertility depends on the type of treatment you get and also depends on other factors such as the type of cancer, where it is, your age, gender, and your response to treatment. In women, chemotherapy drugs may temporarily or permanently stop the ovaries from producing eggs, and in men, they can slow down or stop sperm production completely. Radiotherapy treatments, on the other hand, only affect fertility if a reproductive organ is included in the treatment area, such as for ovarian, cervical or uterine cancers in women and testicular cancer in men although radiotherapy for prostate or bladder cancer is likely to permanently reduce sperm count.
Spanish law expressly prohibits revealing the identity of donors and therefore all donations are completely anonymous and confidential.
After a meticulous selection process to ensure similarity to recipients all donors are chosen by the medical team at the HC Fertility Center. Physical characteristics such as the donor’s blood type, race, height, weight, hair and eye color, and other characteristics are evaluated for the best possible match, also taking into consideration the recipient’s preferences.