Reproductive Health Under The Spotlight in February

With as many as one in six couples challenged by infertility, reproductive health is increasingly under the spotlight. Among the main messages from IFAASA – the Infertility Awareness Association of South Africa – during this year’s Reproductive Health Awareness Month observed in February each year, is that infertility can be treated and that a consultation with a registered and qualified fertility specialist is a crucial first step that should not be delayed.

As an independent fertility clinic, accredited with the Southern African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy (SASREG), and one of South Africa’s top medical facilities, Medfem Fertility Clinic is a proud sponsor of IFAASA.

IFAASA was established in 2013 as a non-profit organisation with the aim of educating the public about reproductive disease and supporting couples in Southern Africa living with reproductive health issues through education, research and advocacy. You can learn more about IFAASA and the initiatives it is planning for Reproductive Health Awareness Month during February at

In a recent interview on eNCA Saskia Williams, CEO of the Infertility Awareness Association of South Africa, answered some of the burning questions asked by couples who are struggling to fall pregnant, starting with what signs there are that will alert a couple that they may be at risk of infertility.

According to Williams, the many warning signs are listed on their reproductive health website, and range from being over the age of 35 and having a BMI (Body Mass Index) of more than 30 to suffering from endometriosis or menstrual issues as a woman or using anabolic steroids or having a history of mumps in the family as a man.

Medfem’s Dr Antonio Rodrigues adds that infertility is often also caused by a medical condition, such as tubal disease or blocks in the testes related to infection. In addition, a large group of couples seeking fertility treatment are dealing with lifestyle diseases, notably high insulin levels, thyroid problems, endometriosis, PCOS and auto-immune disease. These diseases are driven by lifestyle choices around diet, exercise, stress, smoking and alcohol consumption.

Diet also plays a critical role. Dr Rodrigues says that whether a patient is overweight or not, excessive carbs in the diet is problematic. High insulin levels in both men and women, as well as hypertension caused by high insulin levels, is aggressively treated at Medfem, while patients are guided to manage their diets and their lifestyle choices.

Another important factor in infertility is stress. For 21 years, Medfem has also been at the forefront of researching and managing the impact of stress on fertility. Not only does stress inhibit the ability to conceive, but infertility itself compounds an individual or couple’s stress levels. Recent literature and medical studies have shown that the reduction of stress can account for higher pregnancy rates.

In today’s modern world, one of the most common fertility issues is what is called ‘advanced maternal age’. It is a well-known medical fact that a woman’s fertility begins to decline after the age of 30 and reduces rapidly after the age of 35. For diverse reasons, many women have delayed starting a family – perhaps due to their careers or other commitments or perhaps they were not ready to settle down or had not yet met a suitable partner – and as a result of their advanced maternal age, struggle to fall pregnant.

Because of the vast number of possible causes of infertility, a consultation with a fertility specialist is crucial.

During Reproductive Health Month in February, IFAASA is encouraging couples who are concerned about their fertility to get checked out at a fertility specialist sooner rather than later. Even if you are not yet ready to start a family, it is crucial to monitor your fertility and reproductive health status to ensure you are able to conceive later when you are ready to start a family. Couples do not need a referral to go to fertility specialist, you can simply make an appointment.

Seeing a fertility specialist together as a couple is also important, because while most people assume that infertility is a woman’s health issue – this is not true. The fertility challenges a couple face may well be due to a male fertility issue, or a combination of female and male infertility issues.

In fact, Williams says that in general, female reproductive health issues are the reason for a couple’s infertility in around 40% of cases, while male reproductive health issues are the cause of infertility in an equal 40% of patients, with the remaining cases being due to a combination of male and female reproductive health issues. For this reason, men are strongly encouraged to attend the consultation with a fertility specialist with their partner, so the cause of the couple’s infertility can be pinpointed accurately and the right treatment plan can be created. Whether the cause of the infertility is a male of a female reproductive health issue is not the issue: infertility is a joint challenge that can only be faced successfully as a couple in a partnership with a dream to create a family together.

If you are concerned about your fertility, the best course of action is to immediately contact a fertility specialist who will be able to identify the exact cause of your fertility problem and provide expert information regarding available treatment options.

Fortunately, there are a truly wide range of tried and tested and highly effective infertility treatments available, even for those women who have been told by doctors who are not fertility specialists that they have a ‘hostile womb’ and are unable to carry a pregnancy.

These highly advanced infertility treatments range from hormone treatments, egg donations and sperm donations, and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to surrogacy or adoption. Which treatment is the right infertility treatment for you as a couple, can only be determined by a fertility expert with the right equipment, expertise and experience, using advanced tests and investigations to pinpoint the exact cause of a couple’s infertility.

Meet Our Fertility Specialists

Established in 1980, Medfem Fertility Clinic’s team of accredited reproductive medicine specialists have over 100 years of collective experience. They are supported by extensively experienced embryologists; trained, qualified theatre staff, nurse practitioners and clinical psychologists; as well as specialist pharmacists and friendly administration staff. In addition, Medfem Fertility Clinic offers the largest staff-to-patient ratio of any fertility clinic in South Africa, ensuring you receive the best care possible.

In addition, Medfem’s pregnancy rates are among the highest in the nation. A leader in fertility care, Medfem performs an average of 1,100 IVF treatment cycles a year – and is proud to have played a role in bringing more than 16,000 babies into the world.

Whether you are new to fertility treatments or have had treatment before or elsewhere, our specialists, working closely with you, will create a customised personal fertility treatment plan for you.

At Medfem, we believe in helping you reach your family dream through:

* World-Class Fertility for Everyone
* A Positive Fertility Journey
* Delivered With Empathy & Caring

Our team at Medfem Fertility Clinic believes in making world-class fertility treatments available for everyone. It is our joy and commitment to give you a positive outcome to your fertility journey, so you will have a fond memory of feeling empathy, caring and being part of the Medfem Fertility Clinic family.

If you would like to meet one of our fertility specialists at Medfem Fertility Clinic, simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.

We look forward to meeting you!


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