5 Misconceptions About Female Fertility

Posted on 29 July 2020

40 is the new 30

40 is an incredible age for a woman and the doorway to a wonderful decade. However a disproportionate number of women trying to have babies in their 5th decade do struggle. Unfortunately for many, IVF using their own eggs is not a strong solution, as egg quality itself id the ultimate barrier to pregnancy.

If you are in your late 20’s or early 30’s and having a family is not yet on your radar, we are blessed in this generation with the technological possibility of egg freezing.

Freezing a resource of their own younger, more fertile eggs electively can allow women a second chance at conceiving via IVF if they reach an age where they are otherwise struggling.

Endometriosis is always obvious

Endometriosis is a common gynaecological condition, affecting up to 1 in 10 women and is a major cause of female infertility. However, this condition can be cryptic and diagnosis can often be delayed for this reason.

Not all women with endometriosis have painful periods, although many do. Not all women with endometriosis have signs of disease that can be detected on ultrasound studies – about 50%of cases are missed this way.

If a woman is struggling with infertility but her male partner has been checked out and looks ok, endometriosis should be considered. A laparoscopy is a key-hole surgery which remains the gold-standard way to accurately diagnose and treat pelvic endometriosis. Operating can improve fertility and so can IVF. Often, if silent endometriosis is suspected, a woman’s fertility specialist may offer her a choice of either surgical exploration or IVF treatment. Surgery can improve the chance of natural conception and also target and reduce cyclic pelvic pain symptoms. IVF can alternatively be a great get around, at the same time allowing for the storage of embryos which may help extend a woman’s family over time.

You need a baby daddy to have a baby

Some women are ready to have a baby, but are single. Others may be in a same sex relationship wishing to start a family. While it may not be considered conventional, a woman does not need a man to have a baby. However, she does need sperm to fertilize her eggs and make embryos. This sperm can happily come from a sperm donor.

A sperm donor is a man who is happy to donate his sperm to help single women, same sex female couples or heterosexual couples where the male is sterile to conceive.

Donor sperm can be accessed for both artificial insemination and IVF. Through my practice, I can help patients access donor sperm from a clinic sperm bank. Some patients prefer to use a known sperm donor which can also be safely facilitated.

Once your own eggs become infertile, there is no way to conceive

Every woman will reach an age where her own eggs can no longer make a baby. For 50% of woman this age will be 40 years. For some it happens earlier. A woman can carry a healthy baby using a donor egg later in life, even after she has transitioned through menopause, which can occur prematurely for some women.

Using a donor egg from a younger woman is no woman’s first choice or plan A, however ultimately many beautiful families have been formed in this way through IVF.

IVF is horrible

IVF stands for In-Vitro Fertilisation. It is an advanced technology which for the last 40 years has evolved significantly to help millions of infertile women and men around the world to have healthy babies where this dream would have been otherwise impossible.

Throughout the years, IVF technology has advanced in quantum leaps. Success rates are now much higher than in previous generations. Medications are gentler and safer. IVF is no walk in the park, involving emotional ups and downs, self administering injections and for a woman, having an egg collection procedure and embryo transfer.

IVF is a far less horrible, and a far more patient focused experience than it once was. Choosing a practice like Women’s Health Melbourne which is CREI lead, supported by our world class, holistic multidisciplinary team of caring professional makes fertility treatment, including IVF as successful and as gentle as possible.

Dr Raelia Lew is a leading Australian Fertility Expert, practicing at Women’s Health Melbourne and at Melbourne IVF.



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