1. What is infertility ?

Infertility, whether male or female, can be defined as 'the inability of a couple to achieve conception or to bring a pregnancy to term after a year or more of regular, unprotected intercourse'.

2. What is the incidence of infertility worldwide ?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 8-10% of couples experience some form of infertility problem. On a worldwide scale, this means that 50-80 million people suffer from infertility. However, the incidence of infertility may vary from region to region. In France, 18% of couples of childbearing age said that they had difficulties in conceiving.

3. My husband and I have an active sex life, we are both healthy, and my periods are regular. However, we have still not conceived?? Please help !

You need to remember that it's not possible to determine the reason for your infertility until you undergo tests to find out if your husband's sperm count is normal; if your fallopian tubes and uterus are normal; and if you are producing eggs. Only after undergoing these tests will your doctor be able to tell you why you are not conceiving. While testing does cause considerable anxiety, it's far better to intelligently identify the problem so that we can look for the best solution.

4. Is infertility exclusively a female problem ?

No. The incidence of infertility in men and women is almost identical. Infertility is exclusively a female problem in 30-40% of the cases and exclusively a male problem in 10-30% of the cases. Problems common to both partners are diagnosed in 15-30% of infertile couples. After thorough medical investigations, the causes of the fertility problem remain unexplained in only a minority of infertile couples (5-10%).

5. How can I determine my "fertile" period ?

Your fertile period is the time during which having sex could lead to a pregnancy. This is the 4-6 days prior to ovulation ( release of a mature egg from the ovary). Women normally ovulate 14 days prior to the date of the next menstrual period. If you are mathematically challenged, you can use this online ovulation calendar .

6. What are the most common causes of infertility ?

The most common causes of female infertility are ovulatory disorders and anatomical abnormalities such as damaged fallopian tubes. Less frequent causes include, for example, endometriosis and hyperprolactinemia. Causes of male infertility can be divided into three main categories: Sperm production disorders affecting the quality and/or the quantity of sperm; anatomical obstructions; Other factors such immunological disorders. Approximately a third of all cases of male infertility can be attributed to immune or endocrine problems, as well as to a failure of the testes to respond to the hormonal stimulation triggering sperm production. However, in a great number of cases of male infertility due to inadequate spermatogenesis (sperm production) or sperm defects, the origin of the problem still remains unexplained.

7. . My gynecologist has done an internal examination and said I am normal. Do I still need to get tests done to determine why I am not conceiving ?

A routine gynecological examination does not provide information about possible problems which can cause infertility, such as blocked fallopian tubes or ovulatory disorders. You need a systematic infertility workup.

8. What is the general progression of infertility treatment ?

A variety of procedures can be used to diagnose the cause of infertility in a couple; these range from simple blood tests to more complicated analytical methods. In any case, diagnosis is a crucial first step to determine the appropriate therapeutic path that should be followed. In addition to the cause itself, other factors, such as the age of the woman, or problems shared by both partners, might also influence the choice of treatment.

9. Do painful periods cause infertility ?

Painful periods do not affect fertility. In fact, for most patients, regular painful periods usually signal ovulatory cycles. However, progressively worsening pain during periods (especially when this is accompanied by pain during sex) may mean you have endometriosis.

10. What treatment options do infertile couples have ?

Several options are offered to couples depending on the type of infertility that has been diagnosed. The vast majority of female patients are successfully treated with the administration of drugs such as clomiphene citrate, bromocriptine or gonadotrophins. Surgery can also be a means to repair damage to the reproductive organs, such as those caused by endometriosis and infectious diseases. Treatment options for male infertility also include the administration of drugs, surgery and assisted reproductive technologies, such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Drug therapy and surgery have proved very successful for specific types of male infertility. However, in a great number of cases, the reason why men have fertility problems remains unexplained and the treatment methods applied are empirical. Some patients nevertheless require more complex medical intervention. Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) refer to several different methods designed to overcome barriers to natural fertilization such as anatomical problems (e.g. blocked fallopian tubes). One of these techniques, in-vitro fertilization (IVF), has now been practiced for more than 15 years. Overall, the estimated number of infertile patients currently treated by ART is around 20%.

11. My periods come only once every 6 week. Could this be a reason for my infertility ?

As long as the periods are regular, this means ovulation is occurring. Some normal women have menstrual cycle lengths of as long as 40 days. Of course, since they have fewer cycles every year, the number of times they are "fertile" in a year is decreased. Also, they need to monitor their fertile period more closely, since this is delayed (as compared to women with a 30 day cycle).

12. How successful is infertility treatment ?

When talking of success rates for any type of infertility treatment, one should bear in mind that the average chance to conceive for a normally fertile couple having regular unprotected intercourse is around 25% during each menstrual cycle. It is estimated that 10% of normally fertile couples fail to conceive within their first year of attempt and 5% after two years. Comparable to normal fertility rates, effective treatments can be expected to have, on average, up to a 25% success rate per cycle of treatment, and may therefore need to be repeated several times before a pregnancy is achieved. Simple ovulation induction to compensate for hormonal imbalances has a very high success rate; more than 80% of women suffering from such disorders are likely to conceive after several cycles of treatment with drugs such as clomiphene citrate or gonadotrophins.

13. My husband's blood group is B positive and I am A negative. Could this blood group "incompatibility" be a reason for our infertility ?

There is no relation between blood groups and fertility.

14. Are there particular factors influencing the success of a treatment ?

In any type of infertility treatment, important factors need to be taken into account when referring to success rates. The age of the woman and the duration of the couple's infertility are likely to influence the success of treatment. In women, fecundity decreases as age increases, particularly after 40 years of age. When the woman is being treated, her chances of conceiving can be lessened if her partner also has infertility problems (e.g. poor quality sperm).

15. After having sex, most of the semen leaks out of my vagina. How can we prevent this ? Should we change our sexual technique ? Could this be a reason for our infertility ?

Loss of seminal fluid after intercourse is perfectly normal, and most women notice some discharge immediately after sex. Many infertile couples imagine that this is the cause of their problem. If your husband ejaculates inside you, then you can be sure that no matter how much semen leaks out afterwards, enough sperm will reach the cervical mucus. This leakage of semen ( which is called effluvium seminis) is not a cause of infertility. In fact, this leakage is a good sign - it means your husband is depositing his semen normally in your vagina ! Of course, you cannot see what goes in - you can only see what leaks out - but the fact that some is leaking out means enough is going in !

16. What about success rates of IVF ?

Overall, success rates for IVF have steadily improved over the last ten years. Birth rates for IVF vary according to the expertise of the centers practicing this technique. However, centers in Europe have reported pregnancy rates after one cycle of IVF equal or superior to 25%. In 1993, the French IVF registry (FIVNAT) reported a pregnancy rate of 25.4% per embryo transfer on a total of 23,025 oocytes retrieved. Based on such results, after three to four cycles of IVF, a woman under 40 whose partner does not have any fertility problems could reasonably expect to give birth. Again, in general, success rates may vary from one center to another, since they are influenced not only by the level of expertise of the medical team but also by the characteristics of the patients treated. A clinic treating a large number of women over 40 is likely to report lower success rates than a clinic having a majority of patients under 35.

17. My colleagues at work tell me that if we "work" hard at getting pregnant, and want it enough, we definitely will ! In fact, my mother in law is even suggesting that the fact that I am not conceiving means that subconsciously I do not wish to have a baby ( because it may interfere with my career) and that this psychological barrier is the reason for our infertility.

Unlike many other parts of your lives, infertility may be beyond your control. Don't blame yourself if you are not getting pregnant - it's a medical problem which often needs appropriate medical treatment. The attitudes you are encountering are often born out of ignorance - and are a kind of "victim-blaming" - ignore them !

18. Are there particular health risks for women undergoing infertility treatment ?

Along with their intended benefits, drugs used to treat infertility may on occasion cause side effects. In ovulation induction, close monitoring of follicular growth is crucial to ensuring successful treatment. Monitoring techniques (such as ultrasound scan and blood tests) and adequate use of treatment protocols help the physician to avoid ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) and minimize the risk of multiple pregnancy. Current treatment protocols have been designed to reduce the risk of multiple births and OHSS.

19. My grandmother says that if I just pray and have faith, I will definitely conceive. How far is this true ?

Believing in god can help you to maintain a positive outlook - but sheer will and blind faith won't overcome a physical problem like blocked tubes or absent sperms.

20. OHSS Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is a side-effect that can occur during infertility treatment with ovulation inducing drugs. Symptoms of this syndrome may include ovarian enlargement, accumulation of fluid in the abdomen and gastrointestinal disorders (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea). Severe cases of OHSS are however very rare (1-2% of cases).

21. My husband refuses to get his semen tested. He says the fact that it is thick and voluminous means it must be normal !

Semen consists mainly of seminal fluid, secreted by the seminal vesicles and the prostate. The volume and consistency of the semen is not related to its fertility potential, which depends upon the sperm count. This can only be assessed by microscopic examination.

22. Multiple births

Multiple births occur more frequently after infertility treatment than in the normal population. About 80% of pregnancies achieved following simple ovulation induction with gonadotrophins result in single births, the remaining 20% being multiple pregnancies, mostly twin pregnancies. New treatment regimens carefully adapted to the patient's response help to decrease the risk of a multiple pregnancy. After IVF, one pregnancy out of four is multiple (20% twin pregnancies and 3-4% triplets. In IVF centers, physicians now frequently choose to replace a maximum of three embryos after fertilization, to further reduce the chance of multiple births.

23. My sister conceived only after 6 years of marriage. Does this mean I will also have difficulty conceiving ?

If your mother, grandmother or sister has had difficulty becoming pregnant, this does not necessarily mean you will have the same problem! Most infertility problems are not hereditary, and you need a complete evaluation.

24. Local side effects

Common local side effects experienced by patients who receive gonadotrophins by intramuscular injection include skin redness, swelling and bruising. Pain and discomfort sometimes reported after intramuscular injections are now likely to be lessened with the availability of gonadotrophins produced by recombinant DNA - or genetic engineering - techniques which are administered by subcutaneous injection.

25. My doctor just did a physical examination for me, and he feels that the reason for my infertility is that my uterus is tipped backwards, and this prevents the sperm from swimming into the uterus. He is advising I have surgery to correct this problem. Should I go ahead ?

About one in five women will have a retroverted uterus. If the uterus is freely mobile, this is normal, and is not a cause of infertility. This is not an indication for surgery!

26. Can ovulation induction increase the risk of ovarian cancer ?

Ovarian cancer is a rare disease; the chance of a young woman developing an ovarian malignancy during her lifetime is lower than 1.5%. A number of factors have been found to increase the risk of ovarian cancer, including genetic predisposition and dietary habits. Scientific studies carried out in the last few decades have demonstrated that infertility itself is a risk factor for ovarian cancer. There is evidence that each pregnancy reduces the risk of a woman contracting ovarian cancer (this risk could be reduced by more than 25% by a first pregnancy). No epidemiological study has ever established a causal link between ovulation promoting drugs and ovarian cancer. An extensive study on this issue, reporting on more than 2,600 women treated between 1964 and 1974 and followed for an average of twelve years, found no association between ovulation inducing drugs and ovarian cancer.

27. My husband says we should be having intercourse every day to achieve pregnancy. Is this true ?

Sperm remain alive and active in woman's cervical mucus for 48-72 hours following sexual intercourse; therefore, it isn't necessary to plan your lovemaking on a rigid schedule.

28. What about the health risks for children born following infertility treatment ?

Regarding children born following treatment with ovulation promoting drugs, the incidence of birth defects has never been found to be higher than that in the normal population.

29. My friends say I should have sex exactly on the day I ovulate to get pregnant. How can I do this ?

Although having sexual intercourse near the time of ovulation is important, no single day is critical. So, don't be concerned if intercourse is not possible or practical on the day of ovulation.

30. How important is counseling to the patient undergoing infertility treatment ?

The physician helps the infertile couple find the most appropriate therapeutic path to overcome barriers to conception, but, before a treatment is started, patients need to be aware of all its aspects, including its constraints. Beyond the medical expertise, infertile couples are also looking for counseling and support. From a psychological point of view, infertility is often a hard condition to cope with. During treatment and before a pregnancy is achieved, feelings of frustration or loss of control usually experienced by the infertile couple are likely to be exacerbated. Management of infertility includes both the physical and emotional care of the couple. Therefore, support from physicians, nurses and all people involved in treating the infertile couple is essential to help them cope with the various aspects of their condition. Offering counseling and contact with other infertile couples and patient associations can provide help outside the medical environment.

31. My sister in law is advising me to keep a pillow under my hips during and after intercourse . Will this increase my chances of conceiving ?

Sperm are already swimming in cervical mucus as sexual intercourse is completed and will continue to travel up the cervix to the fallopian tube for the next 48 to 72 hours. The position of the hips really doesn't matter.

32. What is the duration of one IVF or ICSI cycle?

One complete IVF or ICSI cycle takes approximately six to eight weeks. First, the normal menstruation cycle of the woman is down regulated by injection or nasal application of specific hormones each day. This part of the cycle can vary from a few days to several weeks. When the ovaries have become inactive, shown on ultrasound control and laboratory findings, the stimulation of the ovaries start by muscular or subcutaneous injections of hormones. The mean stimulation period is 12 days, depending on the reaction of the ovaries. The ovum pick up takes place within two days after stopping the stimulation. Now the real IVF or ICSI follows in the laboratory. When fertilisation occurs, embryo's are transferred into the uterus after two to four days and drugs supporting the uterus are given. After approximately 15 days a pregnancy test will show whether the IVF treatment has been successful or not.

33. My mother feels I am too tense, and that if I just relax, I'll get pregnant.

If pregnancy has not occurred after a year, chances are there is a medical condition causing infertility. There is no evidence that stress causes infertility. Remember, all infertile patients are under stress - it's not the stress which causes infertiliity, it's the infertility which causes the stress!

34. Extra Uterine Pregnancy (EUP)

When a pregnancy is not located in the uterus it is called an Extra Uterine Pregnancy (EUP) or ectopic pregnancy. The most common place for an EUP is the fallopian tube but sometimes the ectopic pregnancy is located elsewhere, such as in the cervix, the ovary or in the abdomen. EUP is a rare disease and occurs in 1% of all pregnancies. With IVF treatment the risk can increase. Risk factors for EUP are a history of infection of the tubes (salpingitis), chlamydia infection, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), former EUP, operation on the tubes or in the lower abdomen, endometrioses and appendicitis. The symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are often similar to those of a normal miscarriage and may include a positive pregnancy test together with or without vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain. Although it is not common, the possibility of EUP has to be considered in patients with the symptoms and one (or more) of the risk factors for EUP. Diagnoses is made by questioning the patient on the risk factors, physical examination, vaginal ultrasound and laboratory findings. Depending on the size and the location of the EUP, different treatments can be given. Mostly the ectopic pregnancy will be removed surgically but occasionally medical treatment or expectant treatment is offered when the pregnancy is very small and thorough control of the patient is possible.

35. I just had a HSG ( X-ray of the uterus and tubes) done, and this shows my tubes are blocked. I've never had symptoms of a pelvic infection, so how could my tubes get blocked ?

Many pelvic infections have no symptoms at all, but can cause damage, sometimes irreversibly, to the tubes.

36. What is timed sexual intercourse?

To increase the chance of getting pregnant spontaneously, timed sexual intercourse is recommended. This means that sexual intercourse, or coitus, has to be taken place around the time of ovulation, which is the most fertile period of a woman. To detect the approximate time of ovulation a temperature curve of several menstrual cycles can be made. The woman takes her body temperature each morning before getting out of bed, starting on the first day of the menstruation until the start of a new period. The body temperature rises around 0.5 degree Celsius after the ovulation. This is mostly about 14 days after the first day of the period and when no pregnancy occurs the temperature drops to normal again; with pregnancy the temperature stays high. One can also use urine or saliva tests to detect the ovulation. The time of ovulation can sometimes vary a few days each month, even in a regular menstrual cycle. Also, if the circumstances are right, sperm can live inside the women for a few days and sperm quality can decrease with high sexual activity. Therefore it is best to have intercourse 3-4 days before the expected ovulation and every other day until 2-3 days after the expected ovulation with no necessity for higher frequency. When tests are used to detect ovulation it is advised to have sexual intercourse on the day of a positive test.

37. My doctor has advised me to take fertility drugs . I don't want to take them because I am scared that if I do , then I'll have a multiple birth.

Fact : Although fertility drugs do increase the chance of having a multiple pregnancy (because they stimulate the ovaries to produce several eggs) the majority of women taking them have singleton births.

38. Egg-donation Women

with no, or not properly working ovaries can, in some cases, get pregnant through egg donation. In this procedure another woman, mostly a relative or good friend, will be the egg donor. This woman will have an IVF stimulation and ovum pick up. After the ovum pick up the collected eggs will be fertilised with sperm of the partner of the recipient woman i.e. donor acceptor. The embryo's are then transferred in uterus of the donor acceptor. If a pregnancy occurs the donor acceptor and her partner will have a child which is only biologically, half their own.

39. My husband's sperm count varies every time we test it ! How do we determine what the "real" sperm count is ?

Even a normal ( fertile ) man's sperm count can vary considerably from week to week. Sperm count and motility can be affected by many factors, including time between ejaculations, illness, and medications. There are other factors which affect the sperm count as well, all of which we do not understand .

40. PCOS Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, is an ovulation disorder which affects 4-6% of all women. Several factors contribute to the disease. At this moment researchers think that the cause of the disease is genetic. The major features of this syndrome are irregular or no menstruation, hirsutism and acne due to high levels of male hormones, obesity (40-50%), high insulin levels with risk for developing diabetes and large polycystic ovaries shown on ultrasound. Women with PCOS usually present at fertility clinics for counseling. To increase fecundity the treatment possibilities are mostly focussed on regulation of the menstrual cycle. For this, several drugs are used (clomiphene citrate, bromocriptine, gonadotrophins) and weight loss is strongly advised. In many cases the cycle will be ovulatory and regulated by these treatments. Furthermore at this moment it is being investigated whether electrocoagulation of the large ovaries can give (long-term) regulation of the cycles.

41. I have no problems having sex. Since I am virile, my sperm count must be normal.

There is no correlation between male fertility and virility. Men with totally normal sexdrives may have no sperms at all.

42. What is embryoreduction?

Assisted Reproductive Therapy (ART) has caused an increase in multiple pregnancies. Especially in ovulation induction and Intra Uterine Insemination this situation is encountered. In order to prevent the risk of severe premature birth and handicaps as well as risks for the mother, embryoreduction is sometimes performed: The amount of embryo's in the uterus are reduced and the remaining pregnancy has more chance of normal development and delivery. Of course this is not an easy decision for both patient and doctor. With careful guidance of the patient during treatment and good counseling when the patient is at risk for a large multiple pregnancy many triplets or higher pregnancies are already avoided.

43. I don't think infertility treatment should not be offered in India, because there are too many babies in this country already. Why should we exacerbate the population problem by producing more? In any case, IVF treatment is too expensive for India to be able to afford.

The right to have children is a fundamental right of every human being and a very basic biological urge. Just because a neighbour has too many children should not deprive the infertile couple of their right to have their own. IVF and related technologies are undoubtedly expensive, but, then, so is heart surgery. Yet, no one objects when over Rs 1 lakh are spent to try to salvage the heart of a 70 year old man (whose life expectancy in any case is only about 5 years and is not extended by the surgery). Why then should medical technology not be used to help couples in their thirties (with their whole lives ahead of them) have their own baby? In fact, IVF is a much more cost-effective use of medical resources than a number of other accepted surgical procedures (such as joint replacement surgery or kidney transplants).

44. What is cryopreservation?

Cryopreservation means preserving in a frozen condition. The best known cryopreservation is of semen. This is mostly done in case of cancer of the testicles before treatment of the cancer. Furthermore cryopreserved semen is used in donor insemination. It is also possible to freeze fertilised eggs after IVF or ICSI. If more embryo's are left after an IVF or ICSI procedure they can be frozen and transferred another time. In this way there is more chance on a pregnancy while only one IVF or ICSI cycle is performed. For human oocytes cryopreservation is much more difficult. Only in very few experiments this is done successfully. The attention of researchers now is on developing a way to freeze ovarian tissue and after thawing, to obtain the oocytes in it. This procedure is not yet fully refined but when it is it can offer great opportunities in the future.

45. My semen analysis report shows I have no sperm in the semen ( azoospermia ). Is this because I used to masturbate excessively as a boy ?

Masturbation is a normal activity which most boys and men indulge in. It does not affect the sperm count. You cannot "run" out of sperms, because these are constantly being produced in the testes.

46. Is Intra Uterine Insemination suitable for every infertile couple?

No. In Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI) processed semen is directly put into the uterus. It is a technique used for couples with fertility problems based on specific causes. These causes are:
Cervical hostility: This means that the cervix is not permeable for semen shown after the Post Coital Test.
Idiopathic subfertility: No cause has been found for the inability to conceive Male subfertility The sperm quality is decreased. Clinics use different ranges for sperm count in which they perform IUI.
Sperm Antibodies: Inability for vaginal ejaculation with decreased sperm quality For example in men with retrograde ejaculation or spinal cord injury. IUI can be performed either in a spontaneous ovulatory cycle (cervical hostility) or in a cycle with ovarian stimulating hormones (idiopathic subfertility and male subfertility/sperm antibodies). The stimulation is mostly done with clomiphene citrate or gonadotrophins.

47. My wife is frigid and does not enjoy having sex. Could this be the reason for her infertility ?

There is no connection between sexual pleasure and fertility. Don't forget that even a woman who gets raped can get pregnant ! And don't forget that the commonest reason women do not enjoy sex is because their husbands are unskilled lovers ! Maybe you should improve your sexual technique, and spend more time in foreplay and in pleasuring your wife !

48. What is TESE or MESA?

TESE (Testicular Sperm Extraction): Sperm collected out of the testicles after operation.
MESA (Microsurgical Epididymal Sperm Aspiration): Sperm collected out of the epididymis after operation.
TESE or MESA is a technique developed for patients with no sperm cells in their sperm due to an undeveloped or obstructed spermatic cord. The cause of obstruction can be a former sterilisation or an infection of the epididymis. When the testicles make no sperm cells at all, of course TESE or MESA is not possible. If sperm cells are obtained, an ICSI procedure (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) will follow. ICSI is like IVF; only now one sperm cell is injected into an egg to fertilise it and make an embryo.

49. What are the causes of damaged fallopian tubes?

In the beginning In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) was developed for patients facing infertility due to damaged fallopian tubes. Later on the indications to perform IVF was broadened, for example unexplained infertility and male infertility. Nowadays tubal damage still accounts for a large number of all IVF treatments. The main cause is abdominal infection. For the tubes this is mostly due to sexually transmitted diseases (for example chlamydia or gonorrhea) but complicated appendicitis or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) can also cause damaged tubes. Other causes are abdominal operations (gynecological operations, cesarean section, sterilisation or other) and internal diseases like Crohn's disease. Affected patients can have fertility problems and are at risk for having a pregnancy located in the tubes (ectopic or tubal pregnancy).

50. Cystic fibrosis and male infertility

Men who have cystic fibrosis often have a congenital anomaly in the male genital tract. The vas deferens, the tube connecting the testicle and epididymis to the ejaculatory duct is congenitally absent. This makes it impossible for the sperm to pass through the penis. Using testicular sperm aspiration, the urologist can obtain sufficient sperm to allow excellent success with IVF and ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). Insufficient numbers of sperm are obtained to make intrauterine insemination an effective option. As cystic fibrosis is a recessive genetic disorder, abnormal gene contributions from both parents are necessary for this disorder to be present. Both copies of the gene are abnormal in men with CF. While persons carrying a single copy of an abnormal gene do not have this condition, when paired with a partner with CF, they have a 50% chance of CF in their offspring. This makes testing the female partner advisable. If the woman tests normal, the children will be carriers for an abnormal gene and although they will not likely have CF, it is advised that their spouses be checked for CF gene abnormalities.

51. What is endometriosis?

Tissue hitologically identical to endometrium (the inner lining of the uterine wall) outside the uterine cavity. Usually, endometriosis is confined to the pelvic and lower abdominal cavity; however, it has occasionally been reported to be in other areas, as well. Endometriosis is one of the most common problems that gynaecologists currently face. It is one of the most complex and least understood diseases in our field and, despite many theories, we still do not have a clear understanding of the cause or of its relationship to infertility. Since this disorder is primarily a human disease and rare in other animal species, accumulation of the facts has been slow. Although endometriosis has been considered a pathological or separate disease entity, it may not be a disease at all. It may actually be the clinical manifestation of a more basic underlying disorder, such as a basic chemical or physiological abnormality that affects the tubal motility or immune system which could be responsible for the initiation or progression of endometriosis in patients with retrograde menstrual flow. By the same token, endometriosis may not be the cause of infertility, but the result of it. Further technological developments may be necessary in order for us to fully understand this problem.

52. What does sperm preparation mean?

Spermatozoa are ejaculated in the seminal fluid during intercourse or masturbation. During assisted reproduction the spermatozoa are extracted from the semen by a series of processes - centrifugation and washing, layering (to select the active sperm and leave the immotile or dead sperm behind) or selecting the best sperm by making them swim through a denser medium and using those that succeed.

53. What is reproductive surgery?

Reproductive surgery is a subspecialty that treats anatomical abnormalities interfering with normal reproductive function. Advanced reproductive surgery requires meticulous surgical technique for optimal results, including rapid patient recovery and avoiding the need for routine hospitalisation. Reproductive surgeons treat tubal obstruction, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, scarring of the ovaries or other pelvic structures resulting from pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in the female, and varicocele and vas obstruction in the male as well as other abnormalities.

54. What does laparoscopy involve?

The laparoscope allows visual inspection of the pelvic organs through a very tiny incision. Abnormalities that lead to infertility can be treated surgically through additional small incisions to remove scar tissue, laser, coagulate, or excise endometriosis, and repair tubes blocked at the fimbrial end. Many types of female reproductive surgery can be performed laparoscopically in the outpatient setting.

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