Expert Interview: It all Starts with Conception

Dr Sonya Jessup


I think you’d agree that starting at the very beginning is probably very wise, whi

ch is why our first Ask an Expert guest is fertility specialist Dr. Sonya Jessup from Demeter Fertility in South Sydney.    

Sonya’s area of expertise is gynaecology and fertility and she helps couples who are having problems conceiving.  Here’s a summary of what Sonya had to say.

What’s so hard about having a baby?

Many factors lead to infertility and there is no one reason why some couples have problems. Generally though, we all leave having a baby until a lot later than we used to. The combination of  more years at school, post school education including university and professional study, not thinking about having children until our late 20’s and just not “feeling ready” are  common reasons.

People expect to be able to have a baby when they want it to happen and can be very surprised when they don’t conceive.

Let’s get on top of the mortgage first

Sonya also said that as a society we are not “growing up” until later and the goal of having a career, house, reasonable income and everything in place before trying to conceive also impacts. Delaying can seem like a great idea but the flipside is that with increasing age comes decreasing fertility. 

Potentially, couples who have fertility issues may not become aware of them until they start trying and alarm bells start ringing when it doesn’t happen.   

But I’m not old!

The younger the woman the more fertile she is and interestingly, it’s not always about her.  Sperm count and motility decrease with advancing age so men experience a similar fertility decline. Interestingly, 1:10 men with no previous history of illness or trauma have a very low sperm count. 

And the perfect time for women to have a baby? Around 23 years from a purely biological perspective.

How long should we wait and try?

Sonya sees couples who fit the description of being infertile – not able to have children naturally; and those who are sub-fertile e.g. who can have children but not want they want them.

Many couples think that they will conceive within about 3-6 months of trying and are surprised when it doesn’t happen. But the general medical advice is that if pregnancy hasn’t occurred within 12 months of trying to conceive then it’s worth couples being checked.

Sonya actually feels that this is perhaps too long and in young, fertile couples there’s more than likely a significant fertility issue if they haven’t conceived by 12 months.

Generally, couples have tried a number of other options before seeking expert fertility advice. These include using ovulation apps and perhaps seeing a range of alternative healthcare practitioners such as a naturopath or accupuncturist.  

But I can’t get my head around needing IVF!

According to Sonya, IVF is easier for couples who know they need it, and harder for those with unexplained infertility.  

There can certainly be a level of psychological angst in making the decision to go down the IVF path but once there, it somehow becomes easier. Sex resumes being fun and more spontaneous and the pressure is off.

Most Importantly

·         Live your own life and make sure your relationship is sound.

·         Having IVF can take a lot of time, energy, money and focus so care well for yourselves and each other.

·         Don’t delay – there’s lots of value for couples to be checked early if they suspect there could be problems.

·         Be sensible and don’t get sucked into everyone else’s IVF sagas. You and your partner are individuals with your own unique infertility story. 

Leave a Reply