FERTILITY problems affect more people than we might think, and they can have a potentially devastating effect on people’s lives.
Some people spend years trying unsuccessfully to fall pregnant. It can be a long, costly, stressful and emotionally exhausting process.
The updated guidelines, Fertility: assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems, were published in early 2013 by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
NICE is an independent organisation in the United Kingdom which provides national guidance and standards on the promotion of good health and well-being and the prevention and treatment of poor health.
Around one in seven couples in the United Kingdom is affected by infertility. In Australia, one in six couples suffer infertility.
Infertility can be defined as:
- The inability of a couple to achieve conception after one year of unprotected intercourse, or
- The inability to carry pregnancies to a live birth.
It can occur at any age for a variety of reasons and may be male or female related. For men, a semen analysis to check the quality of semen is the most important test.
For women, one of the first steps is to check whether or not ovulation (the production of an egg) is occurring monthly. There are a range of other factors that can impact the condition of the uterus and ovaries, and their function.
The updated guidelines offer evidence-based advice on the care and treatment of people with fertility problems.
They make a number of recommendations to ensure that people who are having trouble conceiving will receive the most effective treatments in a more timely manner.
Many couples with infertility can be successfully treated with surgical or medical techniques, or lifestyle changes.
These new guidelines will be important for a range of healthcare professionals including general practitioners.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.