Recent reports from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) have shown that more women are delaying childbearing at the present time than previously, leading to an increase in infertility rate globally. The CEO, Lifelink Fertility Clinic, Dr. KEMI AILOJE, in this interview with ODIRI UCHENUNU-IBEH, proffers solution to the alarming increasing rate of infertility.
Research has shown that infertility is on the rise, what is the cause?
Scientific evidence shows that in women, fertility peaks in mid 20s and starts a steep decline in mid 30s. Despite this, so many people still postpone starting a family. Some modern women want to focus on education, build their career, and of course some want stable financial base, or the ‘right man’ may not be coming, so the need to wait for ‘the perfect partner’. Whatever the reasons for delaying parenthood are, it is unfortunate that the natural clock doesn’t stop ticking hence the human body keeps aging inevitably. It is a fact that in today’s society, inability to conceive due to age is becoming much more common because women are waiting until their 30’s and 40’s to have children. Although many women are healthier in later life and taking better care of themselves, this does not stop the natural age-related decline in fertility. This trend is expected to cause a corresponding rise in the mean age at which women first present with infertility.
What is age related infertility?
This is the decline in fertility that comes with age, seen in both men and women. It is a known fact that age related Infertility affects both sexes, its effect is however seen much earlier in women than in men. Women 30 years and above have reduced quantity and quality of eggs in their ovaries while male fertility starts to decline after 40 years when sperm quality begins to decrease. All these automatically increase the risk for chromosomal abnormalities like having too many or too few chromosomes (aneuploidy) which might result in conditions such as, implantation failure, Down syndrome and even higher chances of miscarriages. Older women are also more likely to have health problems that may interfere with fertility making pregnancy and delivery of a live birth more difficult.
Women in their 20s for instance, have a 20-25 percent chance of achieving pregnancy during their ovulation period. This drops to 15-20 percent for women between the ages of 31 years and 35 years and to less than 10 percent for women ages 35 years and older. By 40 years women typically only have a 5 percent and by 45-49 years a 1 percent chance of becoming pregnant without fertility treatment per month.
What is fertility profiling?
Fertility profiling is the process of knowing your fertility status using simple hormonal, infectious screening tests, ultrasound scans and investigative processes. Young women can walk up to a fertility specialist and say, doctor I want to know my fertility status. They should have someone who can give them guidance and advice regarding fertility profiling, preservation, reproduction and post childbearing care.
If you are a young lady between the ages 21 to 35, before you start getting ready for family, you need to know your fertility status. You should find out if you are one of the percentages of women who have premature ovarian failure, who go into menopause even before they are 30. Ask yourself questions like: Am I one of the people who have blocked tubes and irregular menses? Am I one of the people who may have infection due to abortion, having endometriosis, polycystic ovaries etc.which may affect my fertility in the future? You need to be profiled and the information you provide will help us categorize you and advice you on what you need to know, or avoid and the things or even diets you will need to do to boost your fertility.
With fertility profiling, you can find out a lot of medical information like hormone imbalance with hormone profile testings, blocked tube with HSG, infection with infectious screening spectrum etc that can be treated and you can most likely get pregnant the natural way. Also you can know if your egg reserves is declining and then plan to start a family, before advancing your career.
Since age is one of the major causes of infertility, what is the hope for women who are aging and are yet to get married?
There is what we call fertility preservation. You can preserve your eggs until when you want to have a baby, men can also preserve sperm. So you don’t need to think that since you are not married and you are yet to have your future husband/wife and time is no longer on your side, you will never be able to be a parent. You can start preserving your fertility by visiting to see a specialist at Lifelink Fertility Clinic or even calling in free on our helplines for fertility profiling and preservation initial consultations at no fee or look up on our website for related information. Your eggs can be preserved till you are ready to have a baby and this process has been proven to have far advantages and is cheaper than IVF in the long run.
What can young people do to prevent infertility in the future?
Young people should take charge of their fertility. They should find out about what goes on inside their bodies. We have seen young ladies coming to our clinic and we have found out that some of them have low ovarian reserves. This means that they don’t need to get into their late 30s to start thinking of having children if they plan to because delay may result in eggs not good enough to produce children. What can they do? They can start by preserving their eggs now, so that whenever they are ready for marriage and start planning for kids, they don’t have to worry because the eggs will still be of good quality just like years back when they were still younger. But if you spend all your time looking for money and then don’t preserve your fertility for the future, you may spend that money and even more, trying to get a baby and may even resort to the use of donor eggs. IVF cannot be cheap because it is an advanced assisted reproductive technology with highly skilled professionals and equipment required.