Before and during fertility treatment, patients are often faced with a lot of impressions and information. Sometimes, however, this can be highly confusing, giving rise to a large number of questions.
After asking around, I discussed the issues with Univ. Prof. Dr. Herbert Zech, a specialist in reproductive medicine and founder of the IVF centers of the same name. Below please find his answers to some frequently asked questions:
Sperm-Check using a smartphone app, ovulation tests, testing of hormone levels using ready-to-use test kits …
Fertility tests for self-/home testing are not entirely new, but obviously there are ever more inventive products featuring supposedly greater user friendliness. This, of course, arouses the interest of many men and women.
US researchers have recently presented a prototype of an accessory for smartphones that allows to analyze a semen sample for sperm concentration and motility (according to WHO criteria) using an appropriate App. The goal is to offer a fertility test for men that is simple and reasonably priced in the same way as are pregnancy tests, the scientists say.
But do such tests for men who wish to conceive a child actually provide sufficiently meaningful results? Artikel lesen
When it comes to choosing an IVF center, among other things, couples seeking fertility support want to learn more about the clinic’s performance figures (e.g. pregnancy rate, live birth rate). In some countries, IVF centers are required by law to publish their results and make them freely available. In countries where this is not the case, the disclosure of such data occurs on a voluntary basis. In both cases, for most couples the following question arises when taking a closer look at the outcomes presented:
“But what does this actually mean for us?” Artikel lesen
“If there’s a way to do it better: find it.”
Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931)
If we interpret this quote by Thomas Edison, the continual pursuit of improvements may (as, for example, in the case of Edison) lead to new inventions or to the improvement of already existing technologies.
It is a matter of finding ways, enabling us to achieve a certain quality standard that is subject to constant review and improvement. This requires an established structure, for example with respect to the workflows in a company.
Here, experts are referring to quality management systems aiming, among other things, at implementing appropriate measures and building up a trusting relationship with customers.
What exactly is meant by this when dealing with the working procedures of an IVF center?
Cutting-edge medical procedures provide women with the opportunity to have some of their oocytes frozen and “stored” as a precautionary measure. This is intended to preserve the positive status quo of their fertility at the time of cryopreservation, which in turn represents an option for achieving a pregnancy using their own “younger” oocytes in a future IVF cycle.
The underlying motives can be of both of a sociological nature, as well as of a medical nature. Statutory provisions do not exist to the same extent for both aforementioned aspects.
Thus, for example, there are countries where this procedure can be carried out only if medically indicated, for example in patients undergoing chemotherapy which may have a major damaging impact on their oocytes.
Genetic disorders may cause severe diseases in humans and are known to have adverse effects on fertility, which may even lead to miscarriages. A closer look into these genetic disorders suggests that there are two main reasons for this:
Chromosomal disorders and gene mutations.
In chromosomal disorders, a distinction is made between numerical anomalies (changes in chromosome number – aneuploidy) and structural anomalies (changes in chromosome structure – e.g. translocations). According to experts, these chromosomal alterations are responsible for around half of all spontaneous miscarriages.
Gene mutations involve changes to the genetic makeup of a single gene, gene segment or several genes, resulting in so-called monogenetic or polygenetic diseases. One of the best-known examples of such a disease is cystic fibrosis – also known as mucoviscidosis – which is the most common inherited monogenic disease in Western Europe.
The linking of reproductive medicine and genetics is thus becoming more and more important. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the well-known term Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD).
IVF treatment (IVF/ICSI/IMSI) involves the fertilization of the egg cell by a sperm outside the female body in the laboratory. In some cases, however, sperms have to be collected directly from the man’s testes during a minor surgical intervention called TESE – “Testicular Sperm Extraction”.
The TESE procedure is used in men with a very low sperm count (cryptozoospermia, OAT-syndrome) or no sperm at all in the ejaculate (e.g. due to blocked seminal ducts).
As a service point for help-seeking childless couples, the Info Centers, at the private clinic Group’s seven European locations, are an important counseling and information platform for couples before, during and after the treatment. Every day, hundreds of couples concerned readily make use of this service and receive the relevant answers to their questions in a quick and easy way (by phone or e-mail).
The counseling services are provided in a results-oriented and efficient manner. This is made possible by the comprehensive expertise and the dedication of the employees. Guidance and useful tips are just as integral to the advisory service as the providing of assistance in strongly emotional situations.
What couples considering IVF treatment want to know
Many couples wish for nothing more than to have their own child. But for some of them, their wish to conceive a child has remained unfulfilled, despite prolonged efforts to achieve a pregnancy. But, regardless of how different the underlying causes may be, today there are promising therapeutic options in reproductive medicine.
Counseling: Why is it important?
Since fertility treatment can be an emotionally challenging situation involving potential risks, with no guarantee that the outcome will actually be successful, the couple should, as a first step, seek detailed advice.
One possibility could be to participate in one of the information evenings as offered by the IVF Centers Prof. Zech, for instance. The evening’s topics range from the description of the fundamentals of human reproduction to the analysis of the causes of unwanted childlessness to the possibilities opened up by modern reproductive medicine. The participants have the opportunity to get in touch with medical specialists, ask any questions they may have and voice their personal concerns.
Infertility: What are the causes? Artikel lesen
There are many reasons why women cannot achieve a pregnancy with their own oocytes. In addition to medical reasons (e.g. cancer treatment, genetic diseases, premature menopause etc.), today, there is an increasing number of cases where socio-economic causes are at the root of the problem. Women often delay having children beyond the age of 35. From age 40, it is getting more and more difficult to achieve a pregnancy.
In situations of this kind, egg donation could be an opportunity for the infertile couple to overcome unwanted childlessness. The relevant legislative framework conditions vary from one State to another.
But how does an appropriate treatment actually look like?
Fertility treatment processPart 1 | Initial Consultation
Part 2 | Ovarian Stimulation
Part 3 | Ultrasound Scan
Part 4 | Egg retrieval
Part 5 | Embryo Transfer
Success rate - What to look forPart 1 | "What does this mean for us?"
Part 2 | Assessing the chances
Part 3 | Pregnancy rate
Part 4 | Implantation rate