Fertility Treatments Guide: Factors, Methods and Options

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Happy couple holding a baby together
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After you and your partner have tried to conceive for some time and have not been successful, you know there may be an issue. It is said that if you have been actively trying to get pregnant for 6 months to 1 year, this is when you should contact your provider and see a fertility specialist. Or after you have noticed signs such as increased and/or decreased hair growth, no or irregular menstrual cycles, breast tenderness, or any other abnormality with you or your partner contact your provider. You or your partner could have an infertility issue.

Happy couple holding a baby together
Source: http://www.indiacarez.com/

Each treatment for fertility can differ depending on the cause of infertility, your age, or your overall health. With each case, all of these categories are taken note of and between you and your fertility doctor you create the best plan to become pregnant. A woman over 35 years old may have a decreased chance of becoming pregnant. That is not to say you cannot become pregnant, but with each year the chance decreases. Some fertility treatments may not be an option for you if you are over the age of 35 years.

When you meet with your fertility specialist the first thing that is done is to determine why you are not becoming pregnant. This can include the following reasons:

Factors that Affect Fertility 

1. Ovulation

Sperm and egg
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This is a common reason why most women do not become pregnant due to infertility. Many women are not aware that they are having an irregular cycle or no cycle at all. To become pregnant you must be aware of when and if you are ovulating. If you are not releasing eggs, then you cannot become pregnant. To help kick-start ovulation Clomiphene is used to stimulate your ovaries to release eggs.

Another reason you may be having irregular or no menstrual cycles may be due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is when a woman does not release an egg regularly, or in other words does not ovulate. The ovaries contain a small cystic structure, which are tiny fluid-filled sacs. The eggs grow, but are never released from these fluid-filled sacs, which causes no ovulation. The difference between a normal ovary and a polycystic ovary is in a polycystic ovary there are many small follicles with eggs in them, but they do not mature properly which leads to no ovulation. There are several treatments for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome including Metformin, Clomiphene citrate, Gonadotropin, Letrozole, or ovarian drilling.

[Read more about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome]

2. Blocked or Damaged Tubes

If your fallopian tubes are damaged or blocked, tubal surgery may be recommended for you.

3. Endometriosis

Endometriosis and infertility
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This is when the tissue that lines your uterus grows outside of your uterus. The growths may attach to your ovaries or other organs and when you bleed during your menstrual cycle, it may cause lots of pain. It also affects your chances of becoming pregnant.

If this is the case for you, it may be recommended to have laparoscopic surgery, which removes the overdeveloped tissue. Sometimes this may not be an option if there is too much tissue.

4. Unexplained Reasons

After testing both you and your partner, it is very possible that your fertility doctor may not be able to figure out why you are not becoming pregnant. If this is the case a few treatments may be recommended to you including Clomiphene, hormone injections, or insemination.

Let us take a look at actual procedures that may be used if you and your partner are suffering from infertility.

Methods and Tips to Promote Fertility

Artificial Insemination

Picture of how Artificial Insemination works
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Artificial insemination is recommended if your fertility doctor cannot find an explanation why you are not becoming pregnant, the male has a low sperm count or lower quality sperm including low motility or sperm shape not being right. Artificial insemination also may be used if the cervical mucous is too acidic or thick to transport the sperm to the egg.

To do artificial insemination, sperm is prepared and inserted directly into your uterus using a catheter. It is recommended that you use fertility drugs if you choose to do this method to increase your chances of pregnancy.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

This is a multiple step process. This is when your eggs are extracted and fertilized manually with sperm in a lab. After the sperm and egg have fertilized, once the embryos have developed they are inserted into your uterus. Sometimes the eggs do not take. This is a pricey procedure and recommended for couples that are seriously suffering with infertility and want to have a baby.

[Read more about IVF]

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

This procedure is recommended for men who may have low sperm count or low motility sperm. This is when a single sperm is selected from the male’s semen and is directly inserted into an egg, in a lab. After an embryo has developed it is then introduced into the woman’s uterus through In Vitro Fertilization.

Surrogacy

Couple and a surrogate woman
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Surrogacy is used when a woman cannot carry a baby. The surrogate becomes pregnant through Artificial Insemination or through In Vitro Fertilization, with the couple’s embryo. If there may be an issue with sperm and/or eggs, donor sperm and/or eggs may be used.

It is good to know and reassuring for couples, who are struggling with conceiving, that there are options to become pregnant. It is important to know that it may take several tries or several of these methods to achieve pregnancy. It is also important to know that if you do become pregnant through any of these fertility treatments, there are increased chances of miscarriages. Many couples become pregnant and deliver healthy babies with success using fertility treatments.

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