For a woman experiencing infertility, there are several different treatment methods available. How your fertility is treated will depend on a few factors such as the reasons for infertility, how long your infertility has persisted and your age.
In some cases, you will also have a choice as to which treatment option you would like to try, depending on the cause. However, fertility treatment can often be a demanding and stressful process so it is highly advisable to listen to your doctor’s advice on which treatment option they feel is best for you.
When undergoing any kind of infertility treatment, always consider the additional financial burdens that it may place on you. Fertility treatment can become expensive so make sure you have set aside a budget for your treatment.
Many women experiencing infertility issues also feel the extra pressure of the biological clock ticking. Although this is a very real consideration, try not to put additional time pressures on yourself by expecting to become pregnant by a certain date in time; going through infertility treatment can be stressful enough as it is. Studies have shown that stress can also be a contributing factor to infertility, so do all that you can to limit the stress in your life before, during and after your treatment.
For some women, undergoing one or two therapeutic approaches can be enough for them to become pregnant. However, it is not at all uncommon for a woman to require multiple attempts at treatment or even undergo several different procedures before treatment is successful.
Depending on the reason for your condition, your fertility treatment will primarily be based on either assisting the reproductive process where fertility has been deemed difficult but still possible or attempting to reverse infertility issues to enable conception. In the latter case, medication, surgery or a combination of the two may be necessary.
Reproductive Assistance Procedures
There are several different methods of reproductive assistance. Which one a person may receive will depend upon the nature of infertility.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
IUI is a method of reproductive assistance whereby, millions of sperm that have been specially prepared are placed inside the woman’s uterus at the time of ovulation.
For women who need further assistance with ovulation, medication is often also used to help stimulate the ovulation process.
IUI is typically a method used for couples who fall into the category of unexplained infertility and/or also where there is a mild case of male infertility where the sperm needs additional assistance in reaching the egg in order to fertilize.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
ART methods involve collecting eggs from the woman’s ovaries and then fertilizing them in a dish with the man’s sperm. Once fertilized, the embryos are then transferred back into the woman’s body.
There are several methods of ART, which are commonly used. These methods include:
- In Vitro Fertilization (IFV) is the most common ART method and has the highest success rate. During this process, fertilization happens outside of the woman’s body followed by implantation of the embryos into the woman’s uterus.
- Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT) is a process similar to the IVF procedure. Also known as Tubal Embryo Transfer, the procedure involves fertilizing the egg outside of the woman’s body in a laboratory. The main difference to the more common IVF procedure is that the embryos are then implanted into the fallopian tube.
- Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) is a more rare form of ART. In this procedure, eggs and sperm are placed inside the fallopian tube where fertilization will then take place inside the woman.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a technique involving the injection of a sperm directly into the egg. This method is more commonly used for people who have had several failed attempts with the IVF procedure, for older couples or if the male partner also has infertility issues. Once the egg has been fertilized, it is then transferred back into the woman’s body.
Use of Fertility Drugs
If infertility is present due to ovulation disorders, then fertility drugs are often used. The function of these fertility drugs is to either induce or regulate ovulation.
Fertility drugs mostly work in a similar way to the natural hormones which are involved in ovulation. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are the two primary hormones responsible for triggering the ovulation process.
In cases where women need to either produce a better quality egg or additional eggs, fertility drugs may often be used.
Due to the success of other fertility treatment methods, surgical intervention for infertility is becoming less common. However, in some cases, surgical procedures may still be recommended.
The common surgical procedures used to help improve female infertility are:
- Laparoscopic or hysteroscopic surgery – This surgical procedure is used for women who present with structural abnormalities which may be contributing to infertility. For example, this method may be utilized for removing fibroids, endometrial polyps or helping to correct a mal-shaped uterus. If any of these conditions are present, then this type of surgical intervention may improve the chances of conception.
- Tubal surgeries – This is a consideration for women who may have their fallopian tubes blocked. In this case, a surgical procedure such as a laparoscopy may be used to help correct the issue. However, since the introduction and high success rate of the IVF procedure, tubal surgeries are becoming less common and a woman who has blocked fallopian tubes can still be a good candidate for IVF.
- Tubal ligation reversal surgery – This procedure is only relevant to women who have had a tubal ligation, as a means of contraception. Tubal ligation involves surgically tying the woman’s fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy. However, this procedure can often be reversed to achieve a pregnancy.
There are several alternative approaches that one may also wish to consider to help further improve the chances of restoring fertility and becoming pregnant.
One of the most talked about alternative therapies to help support fertility is acupuncture. Acupuncture has been found to be effective in supporting the IVF procedure. Studies have shown that women who also have acupuncture treatment at specific times during their IVF cycle are more likely to become pregnant than those who do not have this form of therapy.
Fertility massage may help to improve conception rates in a umber of ways. The movement and penetrative motions may be able to assist with unblocking fallopian tubes, break up the adhesions caused by endometriosis, increase ovary circulation and regulate hormone production.