Frequently Asked Questions

What is infertility?

Infertility is defined as being unable to achieve pregnancy after one year if a woman is under 35 years of age, and after six months if a woman is 35 years or older.

How common is infertility?

At least one in eight couples experience difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. Approximately 7.4 million women in the U.S. experience infertility, with an estimated 286,681 in Illinois and 128,259 in Missouri, though more could exist.

The average young couple without any known reproductive issues has about a 20% chance of achieving pregnancy in any given month, and it is not uncommon for couples to attempt conception six months before achieving pregnancy.

Who experiences infertility more - men or women?

While published statistics tend to focus on the woman, it is important to note that infertility diagnoses are split evenly between men and women. Of all infertility diagnoses, one third are attributed to the man, one third to the woman, and one third are unexplained.

When should I see a doctor?

For couples where the woman is under 35 years of age, it is best to try for a pregnancy for one full year before pursuing the help of a doctor. With couples where the woman is over 35, visit a physician after six months of trying to conceive.

For couples with certain issues such as impotence, irregular periods or recurrent miscarriage, it is advised to seek the help of a fertility specialist sooner.

How is infertility diagnosed?

After discussing your medical history and symptoms, your doctor will likely prescribe basic fertility testing. For a female, this will involve an ultrasound to assess ovarian reserve and fertility potential, as well as blood tests to assess ovarian function and reserve. For a male, a physical exam as well as a semen analysis in a laboratory will assess sperm count, shape and movement.

Couples can undergo a fertility checkup which includes the above testing for $99 with Vios Pulse fertility checkup.

Why does miscarriage occur?

Miscarriage may occur for several different reasons, but the vast majority of miscarriages happen as a result of a genetic abnormality (such as an extra or missing chromosome) with the embryo. Other causes of miscarriage include abnormalities in the uterus, hormone imbalances, untreated medical issues, infection, and immune disorders.

How does age play a role in female fertility?

Women are born with all of the eggs they will have in their lifetime. At birth, a woman has one or two million immature eggs, which reduces to 400,000 by puberty. Only 400 eggs will mature and be released during ovulation in a woman’s lifetime. As a woman nears the end of her childbearing years, ovarian supply and quality declines, which can increase the chance of miscarriage.

Women can preserve their fertility by freezing their eggs, “stopping” the biological clock for eggs that are frozen. If a woman wants to test the genetic health of her embryos to increase chances of pregnancy success, genetic testing through preimplantation genetic screening is recommended.

Does having an abortion cause infertility?

Millions of women who have had abortions have gone on to have successful pregnancies and deliveries. Undergoing a safe, legal abortion performed by healthcare professionals poses no significant risk to female fertility. As with any medical procedure, there are risks involved. In very rare cases, damage to the cervix may occur or infertility may arise due to a prior post-operative infection or uterine scarring.

Do eating disorders cause infertility?

Eating disorders can impact reproductive potential and fertility. Being underweight can cause absent or irregular periods, interrupting the process of ovulation. The stress of an eating disorder can also impact the reproductive potential of the body. In patients where excess weight is an issue, hormonal imbalances can cause ovulatory disorders and stop monthly periods. Women should strive for a Body Mass Index that falls in a healthy range of 18.5 – 24.9.

Can my thyroid affect my fertility?

Thyroid disorders (hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism) in women can interrupt the ovulation process, causing irregular or absent periods. Normal thyroid hormone levels are required for sperm production. Through a medical evaluation by a reproductive endocrinologist, thyroid levels can be assessed and treated.

What can I expect during IVF?

One full In Vitro Fertilization cycle typically requires two months to complete and involves preparation for ovarian stimulation, ovarian stimulation and monitoring, egg retrieval, sperm collection, egg fertilization, monitoring of embryo development and an embryo transfer procedure.

Should I consider genetic testing?

Genetic testing is often considered at different times when a patient or couple is ready to build a family: preconceptually to assess for carrier status of more common conditions (i.e. cystic fibrosis), during IVF to genetically test the embryo, or during early pregnancy to screen for genetic conditions.

Genetic testing of embryos is a valuable resource for couples who have a prior family history of genetic disease, are carriers of a genetic disease, or with couples where delayed childbearing may cause genetic issues due to advanced maternal age.

Will insurance cover fertility treatment?

Our Financial Services Coordinator can assist you in your financial questions.

Does insurance coverage vary from MO to IL?

Fertility insurance is much more common in Illinois due to state mandates, but Missouri law does not require insurance coverage for fertility treatments by employers. Illinois insurance often covers up to 4 egg retrievals and a lifetime maximum of 6 egg retrievals. Mandate exceptions include employers with fewer than 25 employees, religious employers, and employers who self-insure.

Are there financial plans for treatment?

Our Financial Services Coordinator can assist you in your financial questions.

Is fertility medication safe?

While fertility medication has helped hundreds of thousands of couples achieve parenthood, all medication comes with potential risks and side effects. When prescribed appropriately and with proper monitoring, the risks and side effects are minimal. Fertility medication can increase the chance of multiples (twins) and in rare cases, can cause ovarian hyperstimulation.

How can I determine if I am ovulating?

Ovulation is the process by which an egg is released from an ovary into the fallopian tubes where it can then be fertilized by sperm. In a normal cycle (21-35 days), ovulation occurs about halfway through the cycle. The best way to determine if you are ovulating is to chart your monthly periods, basal body temperature and to use an Ovulation Prediction Kit (OPK).

Ovulation Prediction Kit: OPK’s measure the luteinizing hormone (LH) in urine, with a spike in LH signaling that ovulation will typically occur within the next 24-36 hours. If you do not experience a spike in LH, ovulation issues may be present.

Basal Body Temperature (BBT): Using a basal thermometer and carefully monitoring temperature daily, it is possible to determine when ovulation has occurred based on a consistent increase in temperature. Two or three days after ovulation, hormones cause a rise in BBT of 0.4 to 1 degree. During a pregnancy, the BBT remains elevated.

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