Creating life: From fertility to parenthood

Posted on: 5th August, 2016

Category: Health & Lifestyle

Contributor: West Cork People

In the first of a three-part series, Dr Mary McCaffrey looks at the factors affecting fertility and the tests that can be carried out by a fertility clinic.

Starting a family is not always straightforward; becoming pregnant does not happen easily for everyone. Approximately 1:6 will experience difficulties in conceiving. There are many reasons why this can happen. Thankfully, modern medicine means that investigations can identify the cause in many cases and treatments can be offered in most cases.

Factors affecting fertility

Ovulation may not occur in about 30 pc of cases of fertility issues.

A woman’s ovaries contain her lifetime supply of eggs when she is a born. This supply of eggs reduces throughout her life. In some women this may happen more quickly than in others. This supply can be affected by surgery on the ovaries such as for cysts or endometriosis, certain medical drugs, for example cancer medications, cigarette smoking or genetic factors.

In recent times we have become more aware of environmental factors such as exposure to toxin and BPAs.

In some circumstances adequate eggs may be present but may not be released each month causing “anovulation” to occur. Hormonal problems such as PCOS may cause this. Equally, being overweight or underweight can affect ovulation. Stress can affect hormones so reflecting on a busy life may be all that is necessary.

Sperm problems can occur and may account for fertility problems in approximately 30 pc of cases.  An inadequate number or quality of sperm can arise due to childhood issues such as undescended testes or mumps.

Adult problems such as previous injuries, cancer or surgery in the male genitals can affect sperm.

Certain medications may impact on sperm quality or numbers.

Lifestyle is now known to have a significant impact on sperm quality. Factors such as cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and the use of cannabis, steroids and bodybuilding substances can all affect male fertility.

The testes are not meant to be exposed to excessive heat. Issues such as keeping mobile phones in trouser pockets, heated car seats, and excessive use of saunas can also be detrimental.

Damage to the fallopian tubes can prevent the egg and sperm meeting thus, fertilisation may not occur. Such damage can occur due to previous pelvic infections such as a complex appenditis or chlamydia/ gonorrhoea.

Gynaecological problems such as fibroids or polyps can interfere with otherwise healthy embryos implanting (latching on) in the womb. Conditions such as endometriosis can cause inflammatory problems in a woman’s pelvis.

However, in about a quarter of cases no reason for failure to conceive is identified. Thankfully, as medical advances occur this situation is becoming less.

Investigations

Nowadays most tests can be carried out without being admitted to hospital. It is important that both partners are investigated simultaneously as it is not uncommon to encounter situations where both male and female issues arise together. Where possible a Fertility Clinic will endeavour to carry out all investigations quite quickly.

Female blood tests are performed to look Ovarian Reserve and ovulation. The most recent test AMH ( anti mullerian hormone) helps to assess the egg potential for the future. It is no longer an elite test but part of our normal assessment of women’s ovaries.

There is now a wide range of tests to assess the fallopian tubes and womb. This may be a specialist ultrasound scan (hysterosonogram), an X-ray or a laparoscopy and dye test. Where possible we will try to avoid exposing women to X-rays.

In recent years specialist 3D/4D ultrasound is becoming a routine part of fertility investigations as it can identify abnormal shapes of the womb not always seen on regular ultrasound scans. Woman can expect that their scans will be ‘internal’ or transvaginal scans as such scans provide better quality images.

Male fertility is assessed by a semenalysis which assesses sperm numbers and the percentage of sperm moving.

As medicine advances we now offer Sperm DNA Fragmentation testing which assesses potential DNA damage in the sperm; this cannot be assessed on a routine semenalysis.

Complex tests such as Immune bloods/Chicago bloods or endometrial testing are usually only performed in very specific cases such as a past history of failed fertility treatments.

September 2016 – Part Two: First Steps of Fertility Treatments

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email bandonwalledtown@gmail.com
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Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at xavierdubuisson@gmail.com or text at 086/0476124.
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