When you want to have a baby and can’t, infertility treatments may be able to help. Which treatment that would be best will depend on a number of factors including the cause of infertility, how long the condition has lasted and the age of the partners involved. Unfortunately, there are some infertility issues that cannot be fixed but many people have been able to start their families with the aid of various infertility treatments.
Treatment options vary depending on which partner is having difficulty or in the cases where there are problems with both partners. In all cases, it can be very expensive and no forms of treatment are guaranteed to be able to enable you to have a baby. The first step in the process is to determine what is causing the infertility and this will usually involve tests for both the man and the woman involved. Once this is known, the doctor will know which route to take in helping you have a baby.
If the cause lies with the man, such as low sperm count or sperm that is not very active, the doctor will often try simple methods at first to try to increase sperm count and/or activity. Sometimes something as simple as keeping the genital area warmer can help increase fertility. If the difficulty lies in premature ejaculation or even impotence, some couples benefit from sex therapy where the man can learn to prolong ejaculation. In cases of impotence, certain medications may be helpful which the doctor will prescribe.
If the infertility is on the woman’s side, the most common course of treatment is to give infertility drugs. These drugs help stimulate and regulate egg production or ovulation. Which drug is given depends on the particular disorder that the woman may have as well as other factors. The most common fertility drugs are as follows:
Clomiphene is an orally taken medication that is particularly useful in women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). The drug stimulates the pituitary gland into releasing more follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) which help create the growth of new ovarian follicles that contain eggs.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) can also be given on its own to stimulate the ovary into maturing egg follicles.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) is helpful to women who experience premature ovulation (where the egg is released before it is ready).
When fertility drugs don’t work or aren’t indicated for whatever reason, surgery can sometimes be an option Many problems with the fallopian tubes can hinder pregnancy but could be repaired through laparoscopic surgery.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has helped thousands of people achieve their dreams of having children when nothing else would work. There are several forms of ART but the one that most people are familiar with is in vitro fertilization (IVF). This is when eggs are retrieved from the woman and then fertilized with the man’s sperm in a laboratory environment. A few days after fertilization, the resulting embryos are then implanted into the woman’s uterus. If the IVF is successful, the woman will carry the baby in the usual way just as any other pregnancy.
The most common complication with infertility treatments is the increased risk of multiple births. The drugs can cause several eggs to be released at once and all could be fertilized. ART carries risks of multiple pregnancies due to the standard procedure of implanting up to three embryos at the same time. Typically not all embryos will take but in some cases they all do, resulting in a multiple birth.
When you discuss treatment options with your doctor, the doctor will go over all the risks and possibilities with you. You should spend some time considering all your options, including the risks, before making a decision on which infertility treatments to pursue.