Conception sounds like a natural occurrence, but it is not the same for every couple. For couples under the ages of 35, it is recommended that they try and conceive for at least a year before they consider their fertility options. For those over 35, the time frame is six months.
Some couples in same-sex relationships that would like to conceive also have options over and above adoption. Same-sex marriage was legalised in South Africa in 2006 when the Civil Union Act came into effect.
In 1997, unmarried and single women were given legal access to artificial insemination.
In June, Olympic champion Caster Semenya and her wife Violet Raseboya announced the birth of their first child.
According to Netcare Hospitals: “Infertility refers to the failure to conceive after regular unprotected sexual intercourse for two years in the absence of any known reproductive pathology.”
20% of infertility cases have unknown causes.
Some of the known causes of infertility are:
- Uterine and cervical issues
- Low sperm quality or quantity
- Damaged fallopian tubes
So what options are there for couples that are trying to have a baby but are struggling?
Assisted insemination/artificial insemination
This is the process of collecting semen, cleansing it in the lab to improve its quality, then injecting it directly on the cervix using a catheter.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF)
This method requires a woman to take medication that improves her egg development. When the eggs are mature, they are extracted and fertilised in a culture dish with cleansed semen. After a few days, then the fertilized egg is inserted directly into the uterus.
Medical therapy/ovulation induction
The woman is given medication that will stimulate ovulation, and possibly release more than one egg during ovulation. Under normal circumstances, only one egg is released per cycle, which lessens the chances of a woman falling pregnant.
According to Netcare Hospitals “here is also medication that may restore or normalise ovulation in women who have insulin resistance and/or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)”.
Donor eggs, embryos, and sperm
Donated eggs and sperm can be used to assist women with ovarian issues, and men that cannot produce sperm.
This procedure is operated on women that are affected by cysts, endometriosis and those with blocked tubes. This is run through a small incision near the belly button using a laparoscope.