Stress, unhealthy lifestyle, age, illnesses: the reasons for the reproductive problems of many couples today are many and complex. Different venereal diseases and infections, such as chlamydia, as well as immune and endocrine disorders can all cause sterility. The role of unhealthy living (smoking especially) and the everyday stress shouldn't be underestimated – they lower the organism's immunity, and harms the spermatozoids and the ova. The later age at which both women and men decide to have their first child, is also a factor for conception problems.
According to the data, about 170,000 couples in Bulgaria have reproductive problems. As a result, many of the affected feel inferior and ashamed, and the psychological pressure can cause a conflict within the couple.
Fortunately, in the past few decades reproductive medicine has been developing with an astonishing speed. Many couples, who until recently would be written off as hopeless cases, are now parents of one or more healthy children. According to some data, about 5 percent of children born in Bulgaria are conceived by assisted reproduction. The specialised Bulgarian Fund for Assisted Reproduction finance several in vitro procedures. To begin such procedure, a couple shouldn't be legally married. All they have to do is to seek help which is officially accredited.
In vitro is the most popular method of assisted reproduction. In it, eggs and sperm fuse outside the woman's body and after several days the embryo is implanted into the womb. In the zygote intrafallopian transfer, or ZIFT, the procedure is the same but the embryo is implanted not in the uterus but in the fallopian tubes. Gamete intrafallopian transfer, or GIFT, is the injection of ova and sperm into the fallopian tubes. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, is also applied; this is injecting sperm directly into the egg. Afterwards, the embryo is implanted directly in the uterus or the fallopian tubes.
Another possibility of becoming a parent at a more mature age, is freezing of genetic material. Ova and spermatozoids can be frozen and used years later, as the preserved material keeps the characteristics of the younger organism which has produced them. In cryobanks, embryos and stem cells can also be frozen.
In case of a serious problem with sperm and eggs, or possibility of passing a hereditary condition, the reproductive material may come from a donor. In Bulgaria reproductive donorship is voluntary. Donors mustn't have chronic diseases, they have to be between 18 and 34 years old for women, and must not be under custody. Donors are registered in the Executive Agency for Transplantations, but remain anonymous to the recipients. The recipients, however, have information about the donor's blood type, education, profession, and physical characteristics.
Regardless of whether a woman has reproductive problems or not, her health is of utmost importance for her good physical and psychological condition. Prophylactic gynaecological check-ups at least one time in the year are strongly recommended, and the procedure should cover more than the basic check-up. The latest improvements in medicine can and should be a part of the prophylaxis. Echography is already a standard procedure in regular check-ups and following up of the pregnancy. The method uses ultrasound, does not involve radiation exposure and doesn't harm the tissues, there are not side effects and no pain.
The good gynaecologists and specialised clinics offer colposcopy as a part of the prophylaxis. It is painless and non-invasive method which allows a close examination of the cervix, the vagina and the pudenda under a magnification of up to 40 times. Another recommended method is core biopsy, where some material is taken for histological research. The results from it define the further individual treatment.
Hysteroscopy is another novelty in gynaecology, a direct examination of uterus. The method helps for discovering of alternations in uterine cavity and the cervix, and a surgical treatment can be performed straightaway. The method is minimally invasive, and the procedure is performed under regional anaesthesia. Hysteroscopy is good for patients with painful or strong menstruation flow, bleeding, formations on the uterine cavity and the cervix, accretion, sterility and miscarriages.
When surgery is needed, laparoscopy offers quick recovery and excellent results. This alternative to traditional "open surgery" approach is minimally invasive and is performed under full anaesthesia. In the patient's abdomen are made several microscopical openings, through them a micro camera and instruments are pushed in and used. Laparoscopy's advantages are enormous. The bleeding is minimal, and the recovery is quick and effective.
Women healthcare doesn't end at the door of the doctor's office. It should be a part of the everyday life.
For millennia, yoga has been a proven technique which keeps the spirit and the body in a top condition. Yoga can be practiced during pregnancy, too. Actually, pregnancy is a great time to start doing yoga as the exercises are light and undemanding, ideal for beginners. The only, and very important rule, is to do yoga under specialists' supervision. Yoga can help a lot in the postpartum period, too – it will ease the depression attacks and will help you to go back to you pre-pregnancy body quickly and without much effort.