Struggling to fall pregnant?

Posted on 18 February 2021

Fertility struggles are more common than you might think. And more options exist than you might realise. An expert explains exactly what your options are if you’re struggling to conceive.

“My husband and I tried to conceive for five years – almost to the day,” says Lindsay Speirs. “The journey of infertility is so incredibly sad, difficult and lonely. It has the ability to ruin relationships with friends and partners and it can leave you bitter and hateful. We tried all the various infertility treatments, since I had endometriosis and my husband had poor sperm morphology. I had to try them all so that one day I could say I really did try and regret nothing. To cut a very long and sad story short, we did fall pregnant – when I decided to focus on running instead and changed my mindset (I did not give up, but had faith). And after multiple rounds of failed IVF, it happened the good, old-fashioned way – although I had taken fertility medication that month. While it was hard, it is a distant memory five years later and I am glad I went through it. I am stronger for it and appreciate my daughter… even on days when she tests my limits!”


What causes infertility?

“Fertility issues are probably more common than we’d like to believe,” says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Riaan van der Colf, co-founder of the Windhoek IVF Clinic in Namibia. Seeing a fertility specialist can help couples narrow down what’s standing in the way of their falling pregnant and, in many cases, address the issue. “It can roughly be divided in thirds – one third female causes, one third male causes, and one third combined,” explains Dr van der Colf. Some of these – such as semen abnormalities in the man or if the woman is not ovulating – can often easily be overcome without IVF. That’s why it’s so important to seek out treatment early.”


When to see a fertility specialist

“I think that couples who present with the problem of not conceiving spontaneously should see a specialist as soon as possible,” says Dr van der Colf. “Sometimes patients and/or doctors waste unnecessary time that becomes very valuable later on.” The general rule, however, is to seek help if you haven’t conceived after a year of regularly trying – and you can make that six months if the woman is older than 35.


What happens at your first consultation

Actually, the process begins before the first consultation, says Dr van der Colf – with a string of tests that analyse blood type, HIV status, susceptibility or immunity to certain diseases, hormone levels, ovarian reserve in the woman and semen analysis in the man. Armed with this information, your doctor will then complete a detailed history for both partners, including medical and surgical history and any previous treatment you may have had for fertility issues. The woman can also expect a gynaecological exam, including a transvaginal ultrasound.


The next step

In some cases, the doctor may request additional tests. “As soon as all the tests and clinical evaluations are completed, a provisional diagnosis will be presented to the couple – and combined with that, also a plan of action,” says Dr van der Colf.


Where to find help

Mediclinic Baby is a great source of information for new parents, expecting parents and those wanting to fall pregnant. Windhoek IVF Clinic offers fertility treatment and support to patients in Namibia who previously would have had to travel to South Africa for treatment. “Every patient in our clinic is special to me – we share all the good news and are happy to see a child delivered to a couple. “We also are sad when treatment does not succeed in a viable pregnancy,” says Dr van der Colf.


Mediclinic Fertility Clinic Facilities

Mediclinic offers specialist fertility expertise and treatment at the following Mediclinic hospitals:

Mediclinic Windhoek

Mediclinic Midstream

Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg

Mediclinic Kloof

Mediclinic Stellenbosch

Published in Healthy Life

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.