We put so much energy and effort into finding ways not to fall pregnant and practise safe sex that when it finally comes to trying for a baby it can be utterly life-changing to discover the effects of infertility for which nobody is immune. Maybe you may not be ready to have a baby tomorrow, but what if you were told that you could never have a baby because you left it too late to make the most of your fertility? It’s time we took note of what’s going on inside.
From the contraceptive pill, condoms, the cervical cap, IUD’s, the implant and even the diaphragm – we are extensively educated in how to avoid pregnancy but resultantly know very little about the right way to ensure we are at our best and most healthy to have a safe and viable pregnancy or even to conceive in the first place.
How much do we see, hear or even know about fertility and the effects of infertility; the heartbreaking daily struggle that millions of couples face when trying and failing to conceive naturally or with assistance. It’s nowhere near as publicised or even talked about as much as we’re told about contraception and how best to maintain infertility through constantly taking hormones and having devices inserted into our bodies to prevent pregnancy.
We’re reminded as women about our ticking biological clocks and have an aim to have children before we reach our forties to ensure they’re at less risk of Downs Syndrome – but sometimes waiting until we’re finally ready puts us out of the race entirely. We need to realise the state of our own fertility and be realistic about the timeframe we have to conceive, otherwise we risk the chance of never having children.
Infertility can effect anyone – would you want to know before it’s too late?
1 in 7 couples are affected by infertility and it’s something we need to address and take charge of before we leave it too late and only discover the problem exists when our chances to conceive have reduced greatly with age and health. Yes there’s the choice of adoption, fostering and surrogacy, but shouldn’t we all have the best chance to conceive naturally of our own choosing?
Around 84% of couples will conceive naturally within a year of having regular unprotected sex and approximately a third of infertility causes is attributed to females, a third to males and the other third is a combination of both or unexplained. Some people will never know the reason why they can’t have children of their own.
A couple aged between 29-33yrs with a normal functioning reproductive system only has a 20-25% chance of conceiving in any given month which is why early detection and treatment of fertility problems are critical in achieving a successful pregnancy. Food for thought if you’ve considered having children in another 5, 10 or even 15yrs time. Even moreso, if like me, you have irregular periods or use a hormone based contraceptive which takes time to leave the body before fertility is restored.
A woman in her 20s has a 33% chance of getting pregnant each cycle, in her 30s she has a 20% chance, in her 40s she has a 5% chance and at 20 the risk of a woman conceiving a child with Downs Syndrome is 1 in 2,000, at 30 it’s 1 in 900 and at 40 it’s 1 in 100.
Those with male partners aged 45+ take five times longer to conceive – male infertility is a taboo that we must break. My boyfriend and I had a fertility test shortly after meeting as we’d both discussed moving in together, getting married and having children of our own one day, but the results found that Freddy had a low sperm count and our hopes and dreams of a future family were crushed in an instant. We never thought we’d struggle to conceive being young, fit and healthy.
The doctor advised that Freddy could make lifestyle changes to help improve his sperm count and the quality of his sperm so that we may be able to conceive naturally or with the help of IVF in the future. The lifestyle changes that he made were:
-Cutting down on alcohol consumption
-Taking regular exercise
-Taking a daily multivitamin
-Eating fresh fruit and vegetables instead of processed food
-Keeping active instead of sitting down for long periods of time
Within just six months of making these changes Freddy’s sperm was retested and his count has successfully raised from 5.9million (the average fertile male starts at around 15million sperm per ml) to an astounding 51million sperm per ml. The volume increased from 2.5ml to 5ml per ejaculation and the motility of the sperm (the ability of sperm to swim towards the egg for fertilisation) increased from 41% to 71% making our chances of conception increased by tenfold.
We are absolutely over the moon with the results and passionate about informing others of the importance of fertility. We feel as though we’ve been given a second chance of having a family and it’s now even more precious to have a choice – rather than our choice to be taken away.
When did you last think about future family planning and how much do you know about your own fertility? Rather than preventing pregnancy all of our lives perhaps we should be more realistic about educating people on lifestyle choices and making informed decisions to plan for healthy sustainable pregnancies when the time is right.