Mother's Day may seem a dream to those struggling with fertility. Dr Raewyn Teirney says medical intervention can help you achieve your motherhood dreams.
Mother's Day. For most women, the idea of the day sparks joy. However, for women facing fertility struggles, a cancer diagnosis or those who fall into a risk category for breast or ovarian cancers, the thought of Mother's Day can fill them with dread and a sense of loss.
Dr Raewyn Teirney, fertility specialist and gynaecologist, advises these women to hold on to hope. "Every individual journey is just that - individual. And there may well be a medically tailored fertility solution that will help you realise your dreams of motherhood."
Here, we cover off the most common options used by fertility specialists to help couples realise their dreams of starting a family and one day too, celebrating Mother's Day.
While basic fertility tracking likely wouldn't be a complete solution for most of the women in the Pink Hope Community, it's relevant to mention as it is a technique employed by fertility specialists to track ovulation.
"We use and strongly recommend it for all couples, especially those struggling with natural conception," explains Dr Raewyn, "but we also use it in cases of intrauterine insemination. We use a simple blood tests and urine ovulation tests to track when the woman is at her most fertile and therefore when it is the best time to insert prepared semen through the cervix and into the womb."
At home women can undertake their own Fertility Tracking. This involves monitoring your basal body temperature, which drops slightly just prior to ovulation and then spikes around the time of ovulation and fora couple of days afterwards. This indicates it is the best time to try for conception.
"They can also use a simple urine test to detect elevations in Luteinising Hormone. This hormone is released by the pituitary gland and it signals the ovary to release the egg. We predict that ovulation typically occurs within 28 to 32 hours after the surge of Luteinising Hormone."
The third step is monitoring your cervical secretions. "Changes in cervical secretions can be an indicator as to when you’re most fertile," explains Dr Raewyn. "When oestrogen levels are high (when you are fertile), these secretions will appear creamy and slightly wet and when you are at your most fertile, they will be thin, clear, slippery and stretchy."
Finally, check for common indicators such as cramping int eh pelvic area, tender breasts, a heightened libido and an increased sense of smell. Other signs are bloating, acne and fluid retention.
Also known as Artificial Insemination, this process works either with a woman's natural cycle, or with ovulation induction. Ovulation induction involves using medication to stimulate the ovaries and cause or regulate ovulation.
"Once the woman is ovulating, the semen sample is analysed and washed to concentrate the motile sperm," says Dr Raewyn. "We then take the final ample and insert it into the uterus via the cervix, using a speculum and small catheter. It is a day procedure performed without anaesthetic and you should be able to resume normal activity straight away."
Egg harvesting and freezing is common for women who wish to have children later in life and want to preserve their eggs from a younger age, as well as those facing cancer diagnosis and treatment journey.
"We often harvest eggs for women about to undergo chemotherapy for cancer, as chemo can trigger menopause," reveals Dr Teirney. "This provides the peace of mind many couples need at such a stressful time in their lives. it gives them hope that they may be able to have a healthy, happy family later on.
‘Typically, this procedure is performed within 24 to 48 hours after diagnosis. An oncologist will refer the woman to a fertility specialist, many of whom have methods set in place to fast-track such cases. out of pocket expenses are also frequently minimised for fertility preservation treatments, so be sure to discuss this with your doctor in detail."
Women who already have partners and have discussed future plans fora family may also wish to have the eggs fertilised using the partner's sperm and freezing the embryos for implantation when treatment is complete, and they are ready to start their family. Pink Hope Community member Jess Braude and her partner Travers chose this option when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 and plan on starting their family in the future.
"If a woman is single, we can also undergo this process using donor sperm," adds Dr. Teirney.
The Future Looks Bright
"We are constantly developing improved techniques, such as determining which embryos might have a better chance of implanting, Artificial Intelligence in IVF to predict the likelihood of a viable pregnancy from transfer and so much more," says Dr Raewyn.
With fertility technology constantly evolving and becoming increasingly advanced, dreams of parenthood and spending Mother's Day celebrating shouldn't yet be put on the shelf.
About Dr Raewyn Teirney
Dr Raewyn Teirney is one of the world’s leading Fertility Specialists and Gynaecologists. She has spent the past 15 years helping thousands of people to conceive.
Dr Teirney currently works as a Visiting Medical Officer (VMO) fertility sub- specialist at The Royal Hospital for Women, and in private practice with IVF Australia, at Bondi Junction, Alexandria and at St George Private Hospital, Kogarah.
She is a member of the Fertility Society of Australia (FSA), and the European Society for Human Reproduction and Endocrinology (ESHRE) and is a Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) Training Supervisor for the next generation of fertility specialists.