Fertility Treatments: What You Need to Know
Fertility treatments have revolutionized the way couples struggling with infertility can conceive a child. From in vitro fertilization (IVF) to intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), there are a variety of treatments available to help couples achieve their dream of having a child.
With constant advancements, the field of fertility remains intriguing. A variety of fertility treatments are available today, including:
- Oral medications
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
- In vitro fertilization (IVF)
- Laparoscopic surgery
- Injectable medications (gonadotropins), which are most often used alongside IVF.
Several lesser-known fertility treatments are also available, such as GIFT, ZIFT, and assisted hatching.
Depending on your age, goals, and underlying conditions, you will require the right treatment. In addition, a gestational carrier or surrogate may be used to carry the baby, as well as utilizing donated eggs, donated sperm, and/or donated embryos.
However, navigating the world of fertility treatments can be overwhelming, especially for those who are just starting their journey. That is why we’ve put together this guide to help you understand what you need to know about fertility treatments.
When Do You Need a Fertility Treatment?
The chances of successfully conceiving are high if you are younger than 35 years old. The fertility rate declines with age, so most clinics recommend making an appointment within six months of trying. It may also be helpful if you were able to get pregnant but lost the pregnancy recurrently. Below are a few of the most common infertility conditions where your doctor may ask you to undergo:
- The treatment of unexplained infertility with drugs and assisted conception.
- Assisted conception and/or drugs used to treat ovulation problems.
- Assistive conception or surgery for endometriosis.
- Assisted conception or drug treatment for poor egg quality.
- Assistive conception and medication for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
- Treatment of fallopian tube problems with surgery and/or assisted conception.
- In cases of poor sperm quality, assisted conception is recommended.
- Treatment with donor eggs and/or assisted conception based on age.
Common Treatments for Infertility
Choosing to undergo in vitro fertilization can be both exciting and daunting. In one sense, the procedure makes it easier for you to become pregnant. In contrast, not knowing what to expect and worrying whether it will work or not is stressful. There are several types of fertility treatments, each with its own benefits and risks. Each treatment will be recommended by your doctor after a thorough analysis of your condition.
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI): is a procedure in which sperm are directly inserted into a woman's uterus. The sperm can either come from the woman's partner or a donor. IUI is often used to treat infertility caused by low sperm count, decreased sperm mobility, or problems with cervical mucus. IUI is a relatively simple and non-invasive procedure that can be done in a doctor's office.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF): is a more complex and invasive procedure than IUI. In IVF, a woman's eggs are extracted and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory dish. The resulting embryos are then transferred back into the woman's uterus. IVF is often used to treat infertility caused by problems with the fallopian tubes, endometriosis, or male infertility. IVF has a higher success rate than IUI but is also more expensive and can carry a higher risk of complications.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): is a type of IVF that is used when the male partner has a low sperm count or decreased sperm mobility. In ICSI, a single sperm is injected directly into the woman's egg to fertilize it. ICSI has a higher success rate than conventional IVF when male infertility is the primary cause of infertility.
- Donor eggs or sperm: may be used in fertility treatments when the woman or man has a genetic condition that could be passed on to their child, or when the couple is unable to produce viable eggs or sperm. Donor eggs or sperm can be obtained from a bank or from a known donor.
- Surrogacy: is an option for couples who are unable to carry a pregnancy themselves. In surrogacy, a woman carries a pregnancy for another couple. The surrogate can either be a traditional surrogate, who is inseminated with the male partner's sperm, or a gestational surrogate, who carries an embryo created using IVF.
Fertility treatments offer hope to couples struggling with infertility. The type of fertility treatment that is right for you will depend on the cause of your infertility, your age, and other factors. It is important to understand your options, risks, and success rates before deciding to pursue fertility treatment. If you are struggling with infertility, talk to your doctor about your options for fertility treatments. Consulting with a fertility specialist can help you determine the best course of action for you and your partner.