Fri | Jun 24, 2022

When couples are infertile

Published:Wednesday | May 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM

We were never promised a fair life. I guess you could say that we all have our burdens to bear. However, there are some burdens that seem particularly unfair such as the fact that so many people still lack food and housing or the cruel ways some lose their lives.

There is another inequity that I am struck by as a gynaecologist - the inability of some of my patients to get pregnant. I am sure that many women view having a child as a right. It is a great expectation of society. It seems that the minute a woman gets married the next question is, 'When will she have children?' For women who cannot easily conceive, the internal and external pressures are tremendous.

But even years of difficulty don't mean never. My very own grandmother was married for 12 years before she had her first child. She then went on to have a total of four healthy children. I remember her telling me once that she went to her doctor and he 'did something' and soon she was able to conceive. She died before I completed my training but if her doctor had a magical skill then that is one I would have loved to acquire. Nevertheless, good treatments do exist to help women become pregnant.

Infertility tests

If you are having difficulty getting pregnant, you should visit your gynaecologist. A couple is considered infertile if they are unable to achieve pregnancy after one year of regular intercourse. Your doctor may ask you a number of questions to help ascertain the reasons for your difficulties. The doctor is also likely to perform a physical examination. If you are having regular periods, your doctor may order a progesterone level test to confirm that you are ovulating (releasing an egg). This test is usually done one week before the next expected menses. The doctor will likely order a semen analysis for your spouse. Some estimates suggest that Jamaican men account for about half of the causes of infertility. Other tests include one to evaluate if your tubes are open or 'blocked'.

If a woman is not ovulating regularly, she can be placed on clomiphene citrate. If her tubes are blocked, she may require surgery to repair them or she may need in vitro fertilisation (IVF). After these treatments, many more women will be able to have babies but some couples will still not have a biological child. However, adoption provides another opportunity to become a parent. There are many satisfied parents of adopted children. And to those who remain childless, please do not allow an apparent unfair circumstance to cheat you out of an exceptional life.

Dr Monique Rainford is a consulting obstetrician and gynaecologist; email: