Common Infertility Treatments and What They Mean
While leaps and bounds have been made in fertility science in the past years, there’s still a stigma regarding infertility treatments. Many couples feel the need to keep treatments secret or say as little as possible about them. This, unfortunately, leads to a lot of ignorance about available options and what they do. Here’s a quick introduction to the most common treatment options and what they mean – a brief guide that will hopefully save new patients a lot of time in the doctor’s office.
Ovulation and Fertility Drugs
The first steps of infertility treatment are actually very easy and only involve basic tests and drugs. First, doctors will have a couple track ovulation cycles using basic hormone test strips. The next step is fertility testing (for both sexes) and fertility drug treatments. These treatments, typically for women (fewer treatments are available for infertile men), are designed to help encourage ovulation and egg release. An advanced version of this option includes hormone injections to jumpstart the process. These drugs offer no guarantee of pregnancy, but they are typically successful in inducing ovulation.
IUI (Intraterine Insemination)
IUI is a common type of artificial insemination, primarily because it is simple and often vary effective. Sperm is essentially helped along, placed into the uterus directly during ovulation to increase the likelihood of conception. This option is very popular because it remains as natural as possible, and is not especially expensive. This is also a potential solution to male infertility, where donor sperm can be used if necessary.
IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)
IVF is a more advanced form of fertilization. This lab-based option takes eggs and sperm from the couple and combines them in the lab, then manually places the result back in the uterus. While this can be pricey and uncomfortably scientific, it also has a higher rate of success than IUI and can circumvent serious medical issues with ovulation. It may also allow an infertile man to still fertilize an egg with targeted sperm injection.
IVF also allows for donor eggs to be used in some cases. This is a popular option for older women who may struggle with egg health or have not had success in increasing ovulation quality. The egg is planted in the woman’s uterus, but the egg is from a different personal and the resulting child would be biologically related to the man, but not to her.
Fallopian Tube Surgery
In certain cases, fallopian tube scarring can occur if eggs damage tissues as they pass. This can create blocked or partially blocked fallopian tubes, which in turn prevent pregnancies and can cause other medical complications. If doctors suspect that this is an issue, they may recommend surgery. Don’t worry, this isn’t necessarily an invasive process – laparoscopic surgery is used to carefully remove scar tissue. If successful, this can solve the problem.
Surrogacy refers to finding a willing surrogate mother to carry a child for a couple. Surrogates typically use one or both sets of DNA from the sperm and eggs of the prospective parents. Surrogacy can work for those who simply cannot get pregnant, but surrogacy contracts are complicated and vary from state to state. Surrogacy is not legally recognized in some states at all.