Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis
This is a technique employed to check embryos, produced through IVF or ICSO as above, for the presence of a certain inherited disease. A typical example is cystic fibrosis, but there are many other severe and debilitating illnesses that can be screened for. Our services are provided with the full support of West Midlands Regional Genetics Service– the largest laboratory of its kind in the UK, which is located at the Women’s Hospital Site. We have dedicated information about PGD, if you feel you may require our services, please get in touch.
Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening (PGS)/ Aneuploidy Screening/ CGH
These terms, best known as PGS all relate to screening the embryo, before it’s returned to the womb, for the correct number of chromosomes. The major reason to use this technique is in cases with repeated miscarriage due to chromosomal problems. We have dedicated information about PGS, we employ the latest technique which is known as array CGH which checks every chromosome, if you feel you may require our services, please get in touch.
Infertility can be due to a number of causes. These include problems with eggs (a reduced store or failure to release), blocked fallopian tubes or low numbers of sperm. At our Women's hospital, we will investigate all possible causes to allow us to develop a treatment plan that best suits your needs.
In one in four couples, there is no identifiable cause for infertility despite thorough investigations but, even in this situation, we will still be able to help you with various treatment options.
Fertility in women
Every month a fertile woman releases an egg and her body prepares for a fertilised egg to implant. Each egg is encased within a special set of cells called the follicle which helps the egg develop and grow. In a normal cycle, only one egg will develop to maturity and be released from its follicle. This is why most naturally occurring pregnancies result in a single baby.
During the time the egg is growing, the lining of the womb starts to thicken. This is a highly-specialised environment where the early embryo will attach and implant.
Approximately 14 days after the start of the last menstrual period, the ripe egg is released (ovulation). This is the best time to have intercourse and try for a baby.
The egg enters the fallopian tubes where, for about 24 hours, it may be fertilised. If the egg is fertilised it will begin to develop into an embryo as it passes down the tube into the womb where it may implant. If the egg is not fertilised, or the embryo does not implant, all the extra lining of the womb prepared for the embryo breaks down and results in a menstrual period.
Problems may occur because of a failure to ovulate, as a result of blocked fallopian tubes, or problems with the womb lining.
Male Fertility Problems
The quality and quantity of sperm both have a major impact on fertility. Some men produce low numbers of sperm (oligozoospermia) which reduces the chances of a sperm reaching the egg.
Fertility problems may also be caused by sperm not being able to swim properly, or by the sperm being abnormally shaped.
All men seeking fertility treatment will be asked to attend the clinic for a semen analysis, which will check for all these factors.
Sperm problems may be the cause of infertility in as many as 50% of couples suffering with infertility. If any problems with sperm are identified, we may be able to provide assisted conception treatment using ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).
Some men produce semen that does not contain any sperm. This is called azoospermia. Half of azoospermic men have normal sperm production from the testes, but there is a blockage which prevents sperm from entering the semen.
This may be due to:
- Failure of the sperm transport tubes to develop
- A blockage of the sperm transport tubes
- A previous vasectomy operation
All of these can potentially be treated using IVF with ICSI after retrieving sperm using a minor operation that we can carry out in the Fertility Centre.
We are expanding our service to offer a specialist male fertility clinic with a multidisciplinary team including andrology and urology expertise.
Things to Consider Alongside or Before Fertility Treatment
Whether you are trying to get pregnant without our help, or just want to improve your chances of conception, there are a number of things you can do:
- Have a healthy balanced diet and take reasonable exercise– being overweight has been shown to have negative impact on fertility. You can seek more advice on this from us or your GP.
- Do not smoke– not only might this reduce your chances of conception but either parent smoking can have effects on your unborn child.
- Avoid excess alcohol
- Be aware of what date you might ovulate and plan intercourse accordingly
- Avoid the use of vaginal lubricants such as KY jelly, Durex Play or Astroglide which are toxic to sperm and will reduce your chances of conception.
- Women should take folic acid tablets in preparation for pregnancy to reduce the risk of your child having developmental problems.
Obviously many people will fulfil all of the above and still have difficulty getting pregnant. If you have been trying for a pregnancy and not succeeding, then this is the stage when you should seek further help and advice