Health

Treatment Options for Infertile Couples

Fertility is something many couples take for granted until they struggle to get pregnant. Sometimes a woman just needs extra time to conceive, especially if she’s older, but it’s important to seek help if you’ve been having regular sex and are not pregnant within 12 months.

There are three main types of treatment for infertility:

  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Assisted conception

Medication

Medication is often used in conjunction with assisted conception. Drugs like Tamoxifen stimulate egg production, which is important for treatments like IVF.

There are side effects with some fertility medications. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the possible side-effects of any medication you take. Common side effects to watch out for include headaches, hot flushes, and nausea.

Surgery

Surgery is necessary when there is a mechanical issue, such as blocked fallopian tubes. Having surgery may be able to repair scarring or remove a blockage if that’s the underlying cause of your fertility issues. Other issues that can affect fertility include poly-cystic ovary syndrome, fibroids, and endometriosis.

Men who have had a vasectomy can also have it reversed if they subsequently decide to try for a baby, but the success rate falls the longer it has been since the procedure was carried out. Men may also need surgery of their epididymis is blocked. If this fails, sperm can be surgically extracted and used in assisted conception procedures.

Assisted Conception

Artificial insemination involves inserting sperm directly into the womb. This is useful when a man’s sperm count is low or sperm are low quality, as the best quality sperm can be manually selected.

IVF is used to assist infertile couples in having a baby when donor eggs or sperm or both are needed to facilitate a pregnancy. Fertilization takes place in a laboratory, and one or more fertilized embryos are then implanted in the mother’s womb.

Approximately 1.9% of all babies born in the US are conceived via IVF treatment. Success rates vary, but between 20% and 35% of women will get pregnant on the first cycle of IVF treatment. With each successive IVF cycle, success rates fall, but overall, if a woman has three cycles, there is a 45% to 53% success rate. 

If you are considering in vitro fertilization, IVF, it’s important to check with the clinic you use what their success rates are. Some IVF clinics have better success rates than others and older women who have less time to waste need to use the most successful clinic available to them.

All fertility treatments, especially IVF, can be very grueling for both partners, not just the woman. It can also be very expensive if such treatment is not covered by your insurance plan. Couples need to be on the same page when considering fertility treatment. It’s likely to put a huge strain on you, emotionally and financially. If your relationship is already strained, embarking on fertility treatment to have a baby is not going to make things better.

Speak to your OBGYN before you make any decisions. Their advice will be invaluable.

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