This piece was written to accompany a really nice interactive infographic that appeared on Growing Generations (an egg bank site) a few months ago. I’ve also placed it on my resource page so you can find it again later! I know that so many people want a quick facts sheet of available treatment options and they did a great job of laying them all out for you. This piece is not sponsored content. I put it here in the hopes that it will help someone wade through the many options available when you want to grow your family but find you are infertile.
An Overview of Common Fertility Treatment Options
Written by: Growing Generations
Many men and women look forward to the day when they will become parents. They dream of putting together a nursery, research the best ways to raise a child, and make plans to nurture that child to adulthood. For some of those hopeful parents, the path towards parenthood is an uphill battle. These individuals may face the heavy weight of disappointment and other emotional burdens. The good news is that, today, there are several options available to those couples who have struggled to achieve a pregnancy and for single-sex couples who dream of being parents.
There are several fertility treatment options, each different from the other. Discuss the options with your doctor or consultant to determine the best course. Read through the following options as you prepare for this journey.
This fertility treatment method is often chosen for couples who need the help of a sperm donor to get pregnant. The most common form of this treatment today is intrauterine insemination. The IUI process begins with a washing procedure, during which impurities are removed from the semen and sperm cells are concentrated. Next, the technician will insert sperm into the uterus with a thin catheter. After about two weeks, the doctor will order a blood test or a pregnancy test. The doctor may prescribe progesterone to increase chances of a pregnancy.
Medication is often appropriate when women face infertility issues. The drugs work by stimulating the release of reproductive hormones directly related to ovulation. Medication is typically the first option attempted, before IUI or in vitro fertilization. Doctors generally recommend that women try this course of treatment for three to six months before moving to another option. Fertility drugs should be avoided by women who have endometriosis or who have damaged fallopian tubes.
In the past, women who had experienced early menopause, genetically transmittable diseases or a diminished ovarian reserve were left without hope of becoming pregnant. In vitro fertilization and egg donation changed that. Eggs typically come from a donor between the ages of 21 and 30. They are then fertilized by either the woman’s partner’s sperm or that of a donor. The fertilized egg is then implanted in the uterus. Donors are carefully screened by professionals and the prospective parents.
Surrogacy is a solution for those who are unable to carry a pregnancy where another woman agrees to carry and give birth to a baby. The surrogate may become pregnant through IVF or artificial insemination. Intended parents (and a healthy egg and sperm) are carefully matched with a surrogate. The process typically takes one and a half years, from the beginning of the matching to the end of the pregnancy.
This fertility treatment method is chosen when there is scarring, blocked fallopian tubes, tissue from endometriosis, anatomical abnormalities or a history or evidence of polycystic ovary syndrome. The surgery may be minimally invasive, such as laparoscopic surgery, or it could become more extensive, such as when an in depth pelvic laparotomy is necessary.
Perhaps the most widely disscussed fertility treatment option, IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), occurs when the woman’s eggs are collected by using a long needle. They are then mixed in a petri dish with sperm so that fertilization can occur. Once the eggs have been fertilized they are left to develop in the lab for 3 to 5 days and then the embroys with the best odds are transfered back into the woman’s uterus. Any remaining embryos are frozen for later use or discareded.
This method may be chosen when the hopeful parents object to IVF for religious reasons or when IVF has failed. There are two primary methods of intrafallopian transfers: A gamete intrafallopian transfer where the egg and sperm are allowed to fertilize naturally after being inserted into the fallopian tubes and a zygote intrafallopian transfer where multiple eggs are gathered together and mixed with sperm. The fertilization takes place in a lab before the fertilized eggs are inserted into the fallopian tubes.
Fertility treatment is best handled as a couple. The procedures and uncertainty are often combined with difficult emotions. Carefully discuss the options, possibilities, and concerns with your doctor and fertility specialist before moving forward.
If you’d like to discover more about the different fertility treatments out there, have a look at this handy infographic.