By Keith Hansen, MD, Sanford Clinic Fertility and Reproductive Endocrinology
After months of trying to get pregnant with little success, “infertility” is never a word a couple wants to hear from their physician. Many couples are gaining hope from new improvements in diagnosis and treatment making the dream of conceiving a child more possible.
Infertility is a common disease many couples face during their reproductive years. It occurs in about 15% of couples and is defined as the inability to conceive after twelve months of unprotected intercourse. Women over the age of 35 who are unable to conceive after six months, have irregular cycles, or those men or women who have a past history of infertility can also fall under this definition.
There are a few known causes of infertility including: problems with production of sperm or problems making a mature egg, difficulty transporting the sperm or eggs, or troubles with the fertilized egg implanting in the uterus. There have been a number of innovative treatments that have improved reproductive physician’s abilities to treat couples with infertility; however, first a physician must determine why the couple is having troubles conceiving.
Dr. Keith Hansen, the state and region’s only board certified reproductive endocrinologist says there are a number of tests for determining the cause of infertility. Men can undergo a series of semen analysis tests to check for infertility. Women can be tested to see if their fallopian tubes are open, test their ovarian function along with the release of a mature egg, and undergo blood tests for diagnosis. There are a number of other tests which are sometimes performed depending on the couple’s history such as a laparoscopy, a post-coital test, and a number sperm function tests.
Dr. Hansen states that the best treatment for the couple depends on the specific case of the patient. Such treatments include intra-uterine insemination or the most successful treatment for males: in-vitro insemination. Females with irregular cycles face ovulation problems and in some cases it may be necessary for surgery or in-vitro fertilization which has become the premier treatment for tubal disease.
If infertility is a problem, the journey to parenthood is one you do not have to face alone. Hope. Dream. Hold your miracle.