With 1 in 8 couples struggling to conceive, it is important to recognize that you and your partner are not alone. It is recommended to see a specialist if you have been trying to conceive for over a year without success. For those over 35 years old (females), you should seek help after six months of trying. Reproductive Endocrinologists are physicians who specialize in infertility and focus on diagnosing the causes. Finding the reason you are not conceiving is essential and many couples can overcome their infertility with fairly simple and cost effective treatments. More extensive and complex treatments such as in vitro fertilization are also offered by Reproductive Endocrinologists and success rates can surpass natural pregnancy rates.
If you are considering the possibility of fertility treatments, here are seven options to consider:
Surgery can be performed to increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy. Surgery may be suggested to remove a polyp or a fibroid from the uterus, to remove or release adhesions and to treat endometriosis. Less commonly surgery may be utilized to drain an ovarian cyst or microscopically reverse a tubal ligation.
Ovulation Induction is often the first line of treatment. The goal of ovulation induction is to induce ovulation in women who do not ovulate. For those who do, medication is given to increase pregnancy rates by increasing the number of follicles (eggs) released for possible fertilization each month. Successful treatment has similar success rates to the general population which normally can take between three and six months to conceive. Risk of multiples increases with ovulation induction.
Inseminations are a commonly used treatment option. Sperm is washed, concentrated and injected into the uterus through a catheter. Because the injected sperm is a concentrated dose of sperm, there is a higher chance it will reach and fertilize the eggs. As one of the less expensive fertility treatments, intrauterine insemination can be a good option.
In Vitro Fertilization
In Vitro Fertilization, known as “IVF,” is a more complex option and thus more expensive. IVF is the process of stimulating a women’s’ ovaries with medication to produce numerous eggs, removing those eggs, and fertilizing them with sperm in a lab or clinic. The embryos are then closely monitored in the laboratory and typically 5 days later one or two embryos are placed back into the woman’s prepared uterus. Possible success rates are much higher with IVF. Utah Fertility Center reports success rates of 65% for women 35 and younger, well above national averages. See www.sart.org for detailed information.
5. Genetic Testing
Carrier testing can be done prior to pregnancy. A simple blood test can be done to determine whether an individual carries a copy of altered genes for particular recessive diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis and Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) can be utilized during the in vitro fertilization process. PGD is used to evaluate embryos for a specific genetic mutation. PGD can also identify the gender of the embryo for family balancing.
Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) is also done during in vitro fertilization (IVF). Prior to the transfer step, embryos are screened for aneuploidy (abnormality in the numbers of chromosomes). Aneuploidy is a leading cause of miscarriage and implantation failure .
Donor Eggs/ Donor Sperm
Donor sperm and donor eggs provide an opportunity for couples who may have compromised fertility options to achieve conception. Donor sperm may be used for intrauterine inseminations and for an IVF cycle. Donor eggs can be used during an IVF cycle and clinical success rates for egg donation cycles are quite high.
Women who are biologically unable to carry a pregnancy may utilize a gestational surrogate to carry their child. The intended parents eggs and sperm are used to create the embryos. The embryo(s) are then transferred to the gestational carriers’ uterus. An attorney is involved to draw up the contracts for each party according to Utah Law.
Talk to a specialist about your fertility options.