Fertility can be quite a sensitive issue for women and couples who are struggling to conceive. Today, couples that battle with fertility are fortunate to have many medical options available to them. The type of fertility treatment that you choose will largely depend on your individual situation and the recommendations that your doctor makes. Nevertheless, it does no harm to be informed and aware of the different fertility options available.
Use of Fertility Drugs
This is usually the first choice of doctors when considering fertility treatments as this form of treatment is generally the least stressful and can be, depending on what drugs are used, the least expensive of the options. The fertility drugs regulate a woman’s reproductive hormones and trigger the release of one or more eggs during the ovulation cycle. The treatment can be administered in the form of monthly injections or tablets that are taken daily. Most women try fertility drugs as an initial treatment for several months before considering other options. Fertility drugs are often also used in combination with other treatments. Fertility drugs have been recorded as having between a 20 to 60 percent rate of success and this tends to increase when combined with other treatments.
Surgery to Aid Fertility
Sometimes there are physical defects that hinder fertility and a woman’s ability to get pregnant. These may include things such as ovarian cysts, blocked fallopian tubes or other genetic defects. Surgery to repair defects or remove cysts or blockages can significantly improve the chances of a woman getting pregnant. Surgery for blocked fallopian tube has been known to aid fertility and has a success rate as high as 90 percent of women being able to conceive following surgery.
Artificial insemination is a technique whereby a concentrated dose of sperm is injected into the uterus using a catheter. The procedure can be somewhat uncomfortable and the woman may feel some cramping in the abdomen in the days following the treatment. The procedure is one of the less expensive fertility treatments and the procedure can be done in a doctor’s office. Artificial insemination is frequently done in conjunction with fertility drugs. The success rate is recorded at being between five and 25 percent.
In Vitro Fertilization
In Vitro Fertilization has become a well known fertility treatment and is often referred to as IVF. The procedure involves harvesting eggs as well as sperm from the prospective parents. The fertilization process takes place in a laboratory and once embryos are formed, they are placed in the woman’s uterus. The success rate is generally between 28 and 35 percent. To increase the chances of a successful conception, this treatment is often used in conjunction with fertility drugs. The procedure is time consuming and can be mildly uncomfortable for the woman. IVF is also relatively expensive costing 10 to 20 times more than artificial insemination. For this reason, it is generally used after other treatment options have first been tried.
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer is more commonly known as GIFT. It is similar procedure to IVF in that eggs are harvested from the ovaries of the mother and sperm is collected from the father. The two are then mixed together in a laboratory. The difference with GIFT is that the mixture is then surgically injected into the woman’s fallopian tubes so the fertilization process occurs within the body naturally, rather than artificially within a laboratory. The cost of the treatment is similar to IVF treatments and the success rate is between 25 and 30 percent. Fertility drugs are often prescribed in combination with this treatment to increase the chances of conception.
Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer
Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer follows the same procedure as GIFT. The primary difference between the two is that the doctor administering the procedure first checks to ensure the eggs have been fertilized before placing them into the woman’s fallopian tubes. The cost is similar to that of GIFT and IVF as is the success rate.
Introcytoplasmic Sperm Injection
This treatment is more commonly referred to as ICSI treatment. It carries a success rate of approximately 35 percent but is one of the more expensive treatment options because of the high amount of detail involved. In the procedure, eggs are harvested from the prospective mother’s ovaries and sperm from the prospective father’s testicals with a microscopic needle or surgical biopsy. A single egg is then fertilized with a single sperm within a laboratory. Once the embryo is formed, it is then placed inside the mother’s uterus. The procedure involves a level of discomfort for both parents.
Surrogacies and Donors
Some women are unable to produce fertile eggs, and similarly their partners may not have fertile sperm. In these instances, couples may consider using donor eggs or sperm. The disadvantages are that the selection process is detailed and lengthy, and there is also the emotional aspect that there won’t be direct genetic ties between one or both of the parents and the child. In some cases, women are physically unable to carry to term. In this case, sometimes surrogate mothers become gestational carriers for the duration of the pregnancy. Most often, the fertilized embryos are placed within the surrogate mother who carries the baby to term. Following birth, the surrogate mother is required to sign away all legal rights to the child. This procedure too is complex, quite expensive and time consuming.
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