Making the decision to try for a baby is very special for any couple but sometimes the elation can turn to disappointment, when pregnancy tests continue to come back negative.
Dr David Greening, a highly respected local obstetrician/gynaecologist, with a sub specialist training in the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, says one in six couples have difficulty becoming pregnant after trying to conceive.
“One of the most common factors of infertility is in fact male related i.e the male has a sperm issue or less commonly a performance issue. Men rarely realise that male factor infertility contributes to 30-40 per cent of infertility issues in couples trying to become pregnant,” Dr Greening said.
“Ovulation and fallopian tube problems also contribute to infertility and another big group is ‘unexplained’ which essentially means the basic tests do not show a cause. This can be experienced by up to 2-25 per cent of couples.
“To conceive you need five main things: to have sex, good sperm, ovulate, have good fallopian tubes and get your timing right i.e have sex around ovulation. There are more problems but these are the top five.”
Dr Greening is the medical director at The Fertility Centre in Wollongong and a VMO (visiting medical officer) at Wollongong Public and Wollongong Private hospitals.
“I work as a general O&G and perform deliveries (around 200 deliveries a year privately), and general gynaecology, but approximately two thirds of my work is CREI (certified reproductive endocrinology and infertility) related reproductive medicine. That includes infertility, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), menopause, male hormone problems, donor egg and donor sperm related matters and a lot more,” he said.
“I have two main practices, my own rooms where I see a mixture of cases including general obstetrics and gynaecology as well as reproductive disorders. The other is my infertility practice at The Fertility Centre (backed by IVF Australia) for IVF. This is a low cost IVF clinic.”
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For couples trying to conceive there is no set time you need to wait before you seek help. Primary infertility is 12 months trying with no previous pregnancy and secondary infertility is six months if there’s been a previous pregnancy of any type i.e baby, miscarriage, ectopic or termination.
“You can see a doctor earlier if you are aware of any problems like irregular periods or no periods, small testes and so on. You don’t have to wait. However, we recommend that couples seek assistance after six months of trying if the female is over 35,” Dr Greening said.
“Don’t leave it too long. Your local GP is a great place to start and they can do some basic tests or refer you on to a reproductive medicine doctor who will investigate you thoroughly.
“It’s also important that you do your research to get a grasp of the issues of infertility. Lead a healthy lifestyle, take folate and stop smoking and excess drinking.”
If necessary, Dr Greening can help you through the pathway of infertility treatments or IVF to help you achieve your dream of having a baby.