Infertility Treatment Options
Infertility is the inability to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sex. Fortunately, couples or individuals affected by infertility have various fertility treatment options to address their struggles.
Options for Women
Fertility Drugs: Fertility drugs such as clomiphene, gonadotropins, and bromocriptine regulate reproductive hormones or induce ovulation (release of one or two eggs from the ovaries). After a few months of use, pregnancy is likely to result 15-40% of the time.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): Around the time of ovulation, sperm is placed inside the woman’s uterus. The procedure increases the amount of healthy sperm that reach the fallopian tubes, where fertilization takes place.
Options for Men
Medications: Men can resort to medications that improve their sperm count to help increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes. Some medications include clomiphene, which stimulate hormone production; gonadotropins, which improve sperm production; and letrozole, which increases testosterone levels.
Sperm Retrieval: Men who have trouble ejaculating or do not have sperm present in their ejaculate (azoospermia) may consult their doctor about sperm retrieval. Sperm retrieval techniques include testicular sperm aspiration, percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration and testicular sperm extraction.
Assisted Reproductive Technology
In vitro fertilization (IVF): IVF involves fertilizing a woman’s egg with a man’s sperm in a lab before implanting the embryo in the uterus. This procedure eliminates the need for high sperm count and for the sperm to reach the egg in the fallopian tubes.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): ICSI is the process of injecting a single, healthy sperm directly into a mature egg. This procedure is often used when semen quality or quantity is low, which limit the ability of sperm to reach the egg.
Donor eggs or sperm: Couples facing infertility can resort to using donor eggs or sperm to achieve pregnancy. These eggs and sperm are selected from young, healthy anonymous donors.
Gestational carrier: Women affected by infertility have the option of using a gestational carrier, a surrogate mother who carries a non-biological fetus to term. Since the egg is that of either an anonymous donor or the intended mother’s, the infant has no biological ties to the surrogate mother.