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Fertility

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Last reviewed: April 2020


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How Age Matters For Your Fertility | Your Fertility

It's a biological fact that as women and men age, their potential to have children decreases, although the exact time when this starts to happen can vary among individuals

Read more on Your Fertility website

Nutrition and supplements | Your Fertility

Women and men can improve the chances of a pregnancy and give their baby the best start in life by having a healthy diet, well before a baby is conceived

Read more on Your Fertility website

Healthy conception tool | Your Fertility

When trying for a baby it’s important to be as healthy as possible

Read more on Your Fertility website

Suspecting infertility | VARTA

What are the causes? Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months or more of unprotected sex. If you have been trying to have a baby for a year or more, it is time to speak to your GP. If you are over 35, you should see a doctor if you have been trying to conceive for six months or more. About one in six Australian couples experience fertility difficulties. There are many reasons for this, some relating to the male partner, some to the female partner, and sometimes both. For many people, there is no medical explanation as to why they can’t conceive.  This is referred to as unexplained infertility. A diagnosis of infertility often comes as a shock and can be emotionally challenging. Unlike other adverse life events, which may have a clear resolution, infertility is uniquely distressing because it can last for many years and the outcome is uncertain. If you suspect a fertility problem, talk to your GP who will guide you through the steps of an infertility investigation. There are many reasons why pregnancy does not occur. About 20 per cent of infertility cases are due to male factors and 30 per cent are due to female factors. Sometimes both partners have a fertility problem, and in about 20 per cent of cases, there is no apparent cause of infertility (idiopathic or unexplained infertility). Many people are delaying starting a family beyond their most fertile years. If you are unable to conceive due to social circumstances, such as relationship, age, financial or practical reasons, and are concerned about your fertility declining, you might want to consider fertility preservation (e.g. freezing eggs or sperm for future use). The Better Health Channel has helpful information on infertility in men and infertility in women. Getting help Speak to a GP The first point of contact should be your GP who will start an infertility investigation. This involves a detailed medical history and a physical examination of both partners and some basic tests to make sure that the woman is ovulating and that the man produces sperm. If everything seems in order, your GP may advise you to keep trying for a little longer before consulting a fertility specialist. However, if your test results indicate a problem, your doctor will refer you to a fertility specialist straight away. The fertility specialist will do more tests to establish the cause of infertility and determine the type of fertility treatment you may need. The chance of fertility treatment working has greatly improved since the late seventies when the first IVF baby was born. Although your chance of having a baby with fertility treatment depends largely on factors that are beyond your control, there are some things that you can do to improve the odds. The lifestyle factors that influence the chance of natural conception for both men and women also affect your chance of success through fertility treatment. Finding a fertility specialist Fertility treatment is physically and emotionally demanding, and depending on your needs it can be expensive, so it is important to find a clinic and doctor that is right for you. You can ask your GP for advice about choosing a fertility specialist, but you can also do your own research before committing to a doctor and clinic. You can find out more about choosing a fertility clinic here. Finding a fertility counsellor If you want to speak to a private counsellor specialising in infertility, the Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association (ANZICA) has a list of independent counsellors. You can also ask your fertility clinic about the counselling sessions included as part of your treatment.

Read more on Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website

Optimizing male fertility

A mans lifestyle affects his fertility and lifestyle changes can increase the chance of conception. Keeping the testicles away from high temperatures such as laptop heat, and avoiding sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are two important measures. Men who are trying to conceive should also exercise to boost fertility and be aware of the links between age and fertility in men.

Read more on Parenthub website

Smoking and fertility

We all know that smoking can cause cancer, heart disease and a range of other health problems. Many smokers don’t realise that smoking can also affect both men’s and women’s fertility.

Read more on Quit Victoria website

Infertility | Family Planning NSW

Fertility is your natural ability to have a child. Infertility is when a couple has had regular unprotected intercourse for a year but have not become pregnant. For a woman to become pregnant, a man's sperm needs to meet with a woman's egg. The fertilised egg then implants in the lining of the woman's uterus and starts to grow into a baby.

Read more on Family Planning NSW website

Test your fertility knowledge | Your Fertility

Correct answer: False Although living a healthy life will certainly help if you’re trying to conceive, the age of the mother-to-be is the single most important factor

Read more on Your Fertility website

Smoking | Your Fertility

A healthy baby starts with healthy sperm and healthy eggs

Read more on Your Fertility website

Fertility explained | VARTA

Fertility is the ability to conceive a child. Most of us take our fertility for granted but the process of reproduction is complex, so some people may experience difficulties when trying for a baby. There are a range of factors that can affect fertility. Taking care of your preconception health by modifying your lifestyle can improve your chance of a pregnancy and the health of your future child. Medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis can reduce fertility, however it may just take longer to get pregnant. In some cases, medical procedures can be used to preserve fertility. Fertility preservation (freezing of gametes for later use) is used by people who are not ready to have a baby during their most fertile years or for those facing medical treatment that might impair their fertility. Understanding reproduction It is useful to understand how eggs and sperm are normally formed, and how conception occurs to understand the causes of infertility and how they are targeted in fertility treatment. The hormones which control the production of sperm and eggs are called gonadotrophins. There are two types of gonadotrophins: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH). In men, they stimulate the testicles to produce sperm and testosterone. In women, they act on the ovaries where the eggs develop. The female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, are produced by the ovaries when eggs mature and are released (ovulation).   For women, the production of sex hormones and the release of an egg is known as the menstrual cycle. It is counted from the first day of the period until the day before the start of the next period. In an average cycle of 28 days, ovulation happens on day 14. However, cycle length varies between women, and it is important to note that ovulation occurs earlier in women with shorter cycles and later in women with longer cycles. Sperm are produced at the rate of about 300 million per day. They take some 80 days to mature. Each sperm has a head, which contains the genetic material, and a tail, which propels it up through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes where the egg is fertilised. Conception occurs when an egg and a sperm come together. At ovulation, an egg is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube. If sperm is present at that time, the egg can be fertilised. The fertilised egg then starts to divide and becomes an embryo. After ovulation, the ovary produces progesterone which prepares the lining of the uterus - the endometrium - for the growing embryo. A few days after implantation, the embryo starts to produce human chorionic gonadotrophins (HCG) - the hormone that gives a positive pregnancy test reading. If an embryo does not form or attach to the endometrium (implantation), the level of progesterone drops and the next period starts.

Read more on Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website

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