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BABIES / OCT ‘2012

Fertile Foundations

For one in six couples, trying to conceive a child can be nothing short of an uphill battle. With so many varied reasons for couples struggling to fall pregnant.

Words LISA FERNANDEZ

According to Roger Hart, Professor of Reproductive Medicine and Medical Director Fertility Specialists of WA, School of Women’s and Infants Health, The University of Western Australia and King Edward Memorial Hospital, a healthy lifestyle is the number one priority and is the first thing he asks his clients to address.

“The woman needs to make sure her pap smear is up to date and any medication she is taking is optimised and looked at whether it is suitable for conception,” says Professor Hart.

“We need to make sure the woman’s Rubella blood test is up to date, that she has started their folic acid and the couple need to be of optimal health with regular exercise, with no drinking for the woman, and minimum drinking for the male and no smoking. The woman’s weight also needs to be an optimal Body Mass Index (BMI) of between 20 and 25. That’s what I would recommend before they start.”

Many people assume that with a couple’s infertility the problem is mostly associated with the woman; however, in 40 per cent of couples who experience infertility, the problem rests with the male. Professor Hart recommends that a healthy lifestyle for the male is as equally as important.

It takes only 90 days to adopt a new lifestyle to improve the sperm count.

“We all tend to focus on the woman, but we need to get the males in optimal health too. He needs to be taking multivitamins that improves natural conception and all parameters of sperm count. If a male smokes he needs to stop, as a male that smokes gives his child an increased risk of cancer. Obviously the woman has to carry on with good heath for the next nine months and during breastfeeding, but he should jump on the bandwagon too. It takes only 90 days to adopt a new lifestyle to improve the sperm count.”

Professor Hart emphasises the importance of weight management as a crucial factor in the ability to conceive. “We certainly know that sexually transmitted diseases are more common now which can cause issues in fertility. Also, obesity and BMI growth have a significant impact on fertility in terms of trying to conceive spontaneously, the success of fertility treatment, the risk of miscarriage and complications in pregnancy when the woman conceives. (Obesity) is a major factor causing infertility in the population.”

Treatments

There are numerous treatments for infertility and falling pregnant can be a long road for some couples, with fertility clinics also offering counselling during this trying time. Initial consultations would include a physical examination (including medical history), blood tests (to check for levels of ovulation,) ultrasound scans and/or a laparoscopy (an examination of reproductive organs.) Some woman may also require surgery yet some may simply just require a boost in ovulation. Everyone is different.

Kerryn Ellis and her husband went through four and a half years of different fertility treatment before finally falling pregnant. Using Fertility North in Joondalup, the couple’s success came to fruition following the ICSI method (where a single sperm is injected directly into an egg.)

"I was convinced I wasn't pregnant. They called me and said ‘Oh yes you are,' it was fantastic!" says Kerryn.

“I was convinced I wasn’t pregnant,” says Kerryn, who asked the clinic to bring her blood test forward as she didn’t feel pregnant. They called me and said ‘Oh yes you are,’ it was fantastic!”

 

A natural approach

When Rebecca Shiel had been through virtually every available fertility treatment for four years, she took the advice of a friend and visited a naturopath who administered four courses of acupuncture and Chinese herbs. It worked. After years of invasive surgery and miscarriages, Rebecca’s body had responded positively to the treatment and she is now a mother to a three year old boy.

“I don’t believe that the acupuncturist’s success was a coincidence,” says Rebecca. “I’d definitely recommend this treatment, it raises your state of positivity.”

At the IVF Support Centre in Claremont, Director Andrash Bodonyi specialises in the administration of acupuncture for women seeking to fall pregnant and his clinic boasts an astonishing success rate. “We don’t understand how acupuncture works exactly, but we know from clinical trials that it just does,” says Andrash, who claims that acupuncture has been shown to increase the blood supply to both the ovaries and uterus.

“Acupuncture is extremely effective. Clinical experience shows that acupuncture creates hormonal balance and helps with profound relaxation which also affects the uterus. We have women with us who have tried everything and we give them a real chance. That’s the beauty of acupuncture; it is non-intrusive with a high safety standard. It has all the benefits without the risk.”

For more information visit www.ivfsupport.com.au/home.php

Surrogacy

According to Concept Fertility Centre Scientific Director Peter Burton, the biggest limiting factor in surrogacy is trying to find a suitable surrogate. “People have to be able to fulfil criteria and there are strict guidelines. Not everyone is suited to surrogacy and it can be a long and difficult process, emotionally and financially,” says Dr. Burton.

The process did work for one couple in April this year however, when they had their son delivered after the woman’s sister had carried the baby following in-vitro fertilisation, the first patrons since the legalisation of surrogacy in 2009. Since then, the Reproductive Technology Council has approved only 12 applications.

For more information on surrogacy visit www.rtc.org.au/consumer/surrogacy_wa.php

 

Costs Involved

Costs for treatment for fertility treatments will vary hugely depending on what is required. Some clinics will charge an all-inclusive fee while others will quote an out of pocket fee. For the cost of IVF, with health insurance, expect to pay an out of pocket cost between $1000 to $5,000 per treatment. This will also cover any medications used. You will also need a referral from your GP or a gynaecologist/obstetrician to be eligible for Medicare rebates for your specialist appointments.

For more information about IVF fees and the Medicare Safety Net Threshold, visit www.ivf.com.au/ivf-fees

LISA FERNANDEZ

A Perth girl who co-hosts 92.9's Lisa, Paul & Baz breakfast show with Basil Zempilas and Paul Hogan. As a mother, Lisa wants to "nurture, encourage, teach, inspire and give my love unconditionally... because the reward is so incredibly great." Keep up-todate with Lisa daily on Twitter at @Lisa_Fernandez.

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