Cape Fertility Answers FAQs on World Fertility Day

On this #WorldFertilityDay 2023, our team at Cape Fertility is pleased to contribute to raising awareness of common fertility issues by answering some of the most frequently asked questions about fertility and the causes of fertility problems, as well as the treatments available that have helped thousands of couples to build their families.

What is fertility?

Fertility is the ability to conceive a child. Most people take their fertility for granted and rarely think about their fertility until they decide to start a family, and do not fall pregnant within a year of trying.

When both partners enjoy healthy fertility, three out of five couples will conceive within six months of regular unprotected sexual intercourse, while one in four couples will take between six months and a year to get pregnant.

Sadly, for many reasons, growing numbers of couples worldwide are facing fertility problems, unable to conceive even after 12 months of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. The medical term for this is ‘infertility’ and it is a distressing life crisis for a couple.

It is very important to realise, however, that fertility problems do not mean you can’t fall pregnant or can’t have a baby, but rather that you will require medical assistance to do so, as most fertility problems are caused by medical conditions that can be treated.

What can cause problems with fertility?

For both men and women, problems with fertility are most often caused by a medical condition.

Some of the conditions that could result in fertility problems in the female partner include for example advanced maternal age, endometriosis or ovulation problems. It may also be that a woman’s ovaries have been removed surgically or that she has undergone chemotherapy and her ovaries are not functioning. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is another medical condition that is a known cause of infertility.

In men, fertility problems are most commonly linked to sperm disorders, but can also be the result of injury, hormonal problems, lifestyle factors and the treatment of diseases such as cancer.

Who is likely to experience fertility problems?

Worldwide, about 1 in 6 couples of reproductive age have fertility problems, while in developing countries the number is as high as one in every four couples. Infertility doesn’t discriminate, affecting couples regardless of country, gender, race, religion or economic status.

It is also true – although not commonly known – that men and women are equally affected by fertility problems. In fact, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine says that approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, one-third attributed to the male partner, with the remaining one-third caused by a combination of problems in both partners, or is unexplained.

Can fertility problems be treated?

Most fertility problems can be treated very successfully, because these challenges are most often the result of a medical condition, and there is a wide range of medical conditions known to affect fertility. For this reason, it is important to spread awareness that there are medical treatments available to treat the many conditions that can lead to fertility problems.

While there are some highly advanced medical fertility treatments available, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has found that up to 90% of fertility problems can be treated with medicine or surgical procedures, and fewer than 3% of couples need advanced reproductive technologies like IVF.

What fertility treatments are available?

Fortunately, medical treatments for fertility problems are as many and varied as the possible causes of it.

Because of its high success rate, IVF – short for In Vitro Fertilisation – is one of the better-known fertility treatments available. During IVF treatment, the female partner’s eggs (or donor eggs) are collected and fertilised with sperm from the male partner (or a sperm donor), in a glass tube (in vitro) in a laboratory, before the resulting embryo (fertilised egg) is implanted into the mom-to-be’s uterus. In selected cases, Assisted Hatching (AH) – an advanced procedure – may also be performed prior to transfer of an embryo into the uterus.

For more than 30 years, IVF fertility treatment has been safely and effectively provided worldwide and an estimated 8 million babies has been born thanks to IVF! At Cape Fertility, our average pregnancy rate with three IVF cycles is 79%, among the highest in the world.

But IVF is only one of many possible fertility treatments. Another well-known treatment is Artificial Insemination (AI), which can be done with the partner’s sperm or with a donor’s sperm, and is a simple, non-invasive and cost-effective treatment that is also very effective for a number of fertility problems.

For women with fertility challenges resulting from problems with ovulation, poor ovarian reserve or menopause, there are treatments such as ovulation induction and alternatives such as egg donation. Laparoscopy and hysteroscopy are used for both diagnostic (investigating) and operative (treating) purposes for many conditions including, for example, endometriosis.

If the male partner has fertility problems, there is also a range of treatments available. Among the most exciting is Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) – a breakthrough treatment that ensures that almost every man – even those who were previously considered sterile – has the chance to have his own biological child.

What fertility treatment is best for you?

Because fertility problems are often due to a medical condition in one or both partners in a couple, an accurate diagnosis of the relevant underlying medical conditions is essential to find the right treatment.

When you come to see us at Cape Fertility, you can expect a number thorough and advanced fertility tests that will help us identify quickly what your specific fertility challenge is and what treatment would be most effective for you to achieve a pregnancy.

When should I see a fertility specialist?

If you are concerned about your fertility, we highly recommend that you see a fertility specialist as soon as possible.

You should also see a fertility specialist if you are under 35, and have been having regular unprotected intercourse for 12 months without conceiving; or if you are over 35, and have been having regular unprotected intercourse for 6 months without falling pregnant. In addition, if you or your partner have a history of STDs, or if you have painful periods or irregular cycles, or if you had more than one miscarriage, you should see a fertility specialist soonest.

How do I choose a fertility specialist?

As fertility problems are often caused by medical conditions, and fertility treatments are often medical procedures, it is very important that you select a fertility specialist and a fertility clinic that is registered and accredited.

Cape Fertility is proud to be among the country’s top fertility clinics to be accredited by the Southern African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy (SASREG), which represents specialists in the field of fertility treatment and serves to protect the interests of patients undergoing fertility treatment. Visit the website sasreg.co.za to check if the fertility clinic you are considering is registered.

Cape Fertility is not only accredited, we are also a leading fertility clinic achieving world-class results. Our exceptionally well-qualified and experienced fertility specialists are backed up by a team of experts in the many aspects of fertility treatment. We are guided by the highest ethical standards, to provide our patients with the best quality, individualised, compassionate fertility care.

We also achieve some of the best success rates in the world. Yet, we are always striving for higher success rates to ensure even more of our patients can experience the joy of have their own baby.

We invite you to contact us by simply clicking here.

At Cape Fertility, we value each individual patient and we look forward to providing you with our signature individualised and personalised care.