The Doctors’ Perspectives on Age, Secondary Infertility, & Tubal Reversals
Did you know that a diagnosis of infertility has been shown to be as emotionally upsetting to a person as a diagnosis of cancer? However, unlike other serious medical conditions, friends and family often do not recognize or understand the emotional impact such a struggle can have on a person. This can be a very isolating experience for a couple to go through.
If you haven’t experienced infertility yourself, it may be difficult to know what to say to a friend who is struggling. One of the best things you can do is to listen to them and let them know you care. Mother’s Day is around the corner and can be an especially difficult time. You might send a card to your infertile friends on this day, letting them know they are in your thoughts.
According to the National Infertility Association, 1 in 8 couples, or 7.3 million women and men, are affected by primary (unable to conceive) or secondary infertility (the inability to conceive after a successful pregnancy). If you or someone you know is in this group; you are not alone.
Statistically, secondary infertility is more common than primary infertility. However, couples dealing with secondary infertility often delay seeking evaluation and treatment because they didn’t have difficulty conceiving in the past.
“Women age 35 or over should see a fertility specialist after 6 months of trying to conceive, instead of waiting a full year,” explained Dr. John Park of Raleigh’s Carolina Conceptions. “Egg quality and quantity rapidly decline once a woman reaches 35, so it is prudent to undergo evaluation and treatment sooner than women who are in their 20s or early 30s.”
Couples experiencing secondary infertility may hear from well-meaning friends that they should be grateful for the child they do have and not worry so much about having more. “Secondary infertility can sometimes be more frustrating than never having had a child,” expressed Dr. Bill Meyer, co-founder of Carolina Conceptions.
Dr. Meyer explained the evaluation of secondary infertility is much the same as it is for couples who have never conceived (blood tests, HSG X-ray of the female reproductive system, and semen analysis). “With secondary infertility, the couple’s recent medical history becomes our focus. For example, was there anything at the time of delivery that might have caused scarring, has the woman had pelvic surgery since delivery, has her husband had viral infections, and have either decided to smoke? Why was it so easy the first time? It is our job at Carolina Conceptions to try and find out.”
Additionally, it is not uncommon for women who have had their tubes tied to later have a change of heart. Many of these women consider tubal reversal. “Tubal reversals are not always the best choice for women today,” noted Carolina Conceptions co-founding physician, Grace Couchman, one of the few female reproductive endocrinologists in the area. “Not all patients who have had tubal sterilization are wanting to face another surgery to repair their tubes, and some are not candidates for a reversal because their tubes were damaged in the sterilization process. Furthermore, if reversal is performed, women are again faced with choosing how to contracept when their last child is born. A more practical approach than tubal reversal is often IVF. It does not require major surgery, and, pregnancy rates for women who choose IVF over tubal reversal are higher overall.”
Carolina Conceptions is one of the only private practice infertility clinics in the Triangle where every physician is board certified in both OB/GYN and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Co-founder of Carolina Conceptions, Dr. Meyer, is fluent in Spanish and happy to help those patients who may often require a translator during medical appointments. All three doctors on staff share more than 60 years of experience rooted in the excellence of Yale, Duke and Emory. They are consistently ranked on the “Best Doctors in America” list. Together, they have achieved some of the highest IVF success rates in the country and have helped achieve 3,865 pregnancies since opening their doors in 2006.
Anyone who has experienced infertility knows it can feel like an eternity waiting for those dreams of parenthood to come true. One of the most effective treatments for the emotional aspects of infertility is group therapy. Carolina Conceptions is excited to announce the first meeting of their new FREE monthly support group on Wednesday, June 3 from 6:30-7:30pm. The group will be facilitated by clinical psychologist, Dr. Ryan Blazei of Cary. “Everyone touched by infertility is invited to attend, even if you are not one of our patients,” encouraged Dr. Blazei.
“We understand there is a need in the community to reach out and support the individuals and couples affected by infertility,” shared Dr. John Park. “At Carolina Conceptions, our patient care extends well beyond the exam rooms.”