In high school we’re taught that if we have unprotected sex we’ll get pregnant. It’s that simple. You hear horror stories of girls finding out their expecting after their first time, one night stands that end in late night diaper duty and the pitter patter of little feet that can be traced back to one missed pill. It isn’t always that easy though and while 80% of couples who are trying to conceive will find their baby bliss within a year up to twenty percent of kiwi couples will struggle with fertility issues during their relationship.
The term itself is scary. Infertility. It sounds so finite. However while 1 out of every 5 kiwis deal with infertility there are plenty of medical and natural ways you can make your baby dreams come true. The path to parenthood may be a little rockier for some but I’ve heard the end result is pretty spectacular.
So what is infertility? Any couple that have tried consistently for more than a year and have failed to conceive or carry a child to full term are considered to have primary infertility. Secondary infertility occurs after a couple have already conceived have trouble conceiving again. Both primary and secondary infertility could be caused by any number of things and treated by countless options that are available across the country.
Approximately 40% of fertility issues are male and 40% are female. The last twenty percent is referred to as ‘unexplained infertility’. In the case of unexplained infertility there is no clear answer as to why a couple are having trouble having a child together.
During the process of diagnosing, understanding and possibly solving infertility issues it is completely natural to experience a wide range of emotions. Infertility throws a spanner in the works and can seem like it’s completely derailed all your future plans and ideal life. It is entirely normal to feel sad, confused, angry and even a little jealous of people that have no issues conceiving. Infertility can result in a lack of self worth or self confidence and feeling of failure, depression and strain on a relationship.
The good news is that there is support out there. All New Zealand fertility clinics have counsellors on board and you do not need to be a patient of a clinic to access them. Fertility New Zealand is also a great resource with information on the different types causes, treatments and supports and they even have an 0800 number you can use for information and support. You can also talk to your GP about support and services in the area.
If you’re having trouble conceiving after one year or sooner but believe there may be a fertility issue the first step is talking to your GP. You should also consult a doctor before the one year mark if you or your partner have had genital or pelvic surgery (Including appendix surgery for women), Your partner has irregular periods or has a known reproductive pathology or she is over 35 years old and if you have experienced genital infection or significant trauma.
When speaking to your GP there are a few things you can do to help make the process a little easier for yourself, your partner and the medical professionals who will be helping you along the way.
- Take a list of questions with you when you visit the doctor. You’re talking about something that can be emotional at times, so having a list to refer back to will help ensure you get all your questions answered.
- If it’s necessary make sure you are referred to a Reproductive Health Specialist or Clinic.
- Ask for copies of all your test results, they may come in handy. Also make sure you ask the doctor to explain any test results to you.
- Ask your GP to do any blood and sperm tests before you visit your specialist. It will shorten your overall waiting time. Just remember, the samples need to be less than six months old.
Once you’ve spoken to your GP it’s time to explore all the different options you have to help increase your chances of having a baby. There are both medical and natural options available in New Zealand and a wide variety of different treatments that may suit you.
In the next instalment of this series we look at some of the natural fertility treatments available in New Zealand.